Music tourism boosts UK economy; generates £2.2bn, 24,000 jobs

Over 6.5 million tourists attended concerts and music festivals in the UK last year, effectively boosting the UK economy by £2.2 billion, Travel Daily News International has reported, citing a separate report.

The ‘Wish You Were Here’ report prepared by UK Music and VisitBritain underscores the potential of music to fuel tourism throughout the country. Music tourism provides a boost to the UK economy, including at least 24,000 jobs each year, it said.

According to the report, direct spending by UK and overseas music tourists, including buying tickets and paying for transport and accommodation, was worth £1.3 billion last year. Further indirect music tourism spending – additional spending along the supply chain generated by music tourists – added a further £914 million, making a total of £2.2 billion.

VisitBritain chief executive, Sandie Dawe, said: ‘This report confirms that the UK’s music scene has significant international appeal and that music tourists spend lots of money and travel across the whole of Britain.

This will act as a catalyst for us all to ramp up our activity and forge better relationships with festival organisers, promoters, venues and producers to raise awareness of our amazing music scene across the world.’

UK Music CEO, Jo Dipple, said: ‘It’s clear our music industry is doing a great job for the British economy, encouraging 6.5 million tourists who generated £2.2 billion last year. Music tourism created over 24,000 jobs. Just think what we might achieve with policies that specifically target the music tourist in this country and abroad? Our opportunities are limitless. Consider the record demand for Glastonbury 2014. The love of music is a powerful driver for growth.’

The UK government and ministers have previously acknowledged the music industry’s potential for attracting overseas visitors to events such as Glastonbury and Bestival.

Culture minister, Ed Vaizey MP, said: ‘Music is without question an essential element of Britain’s tourism appeal, and it is this ability of the UK’s music industry to attract tourists from near and far to our shores that is celebrated in this report.

‘The huge financial contribution to the UK economy by the millions of music tourists to the UK annually makes it very clear that when combined, the music and tourism industries are powerful drivers for growth,’ Vaizey added.

British government urged to develop music tourism strategy

A cross-party group of influential peers has called on the British government to develop a new strategy for music-based tourism to support the UK economy.

The call was made during a House of Lords debate on the impact of music on tourism. According to the debate sponsor, Liberal Democrat Lord Storey, music festivals have been attracting unprecedented numbers of overseas visitors that have been pouring money into local economies.

The world’s ‘evident love’ of the UK’s musical heritage should now be used to support music tourism, he said, adding, ‘I have seen first-hand the positive impact music can make on local tourist economies. But, we must also consider the impact music can have on the country as a whole.’

A 2011 report estimated music tourists spend £1.4 billion and sustain over 20,000 jobs.

‘Great Britain simply has too much potential for musical tourism for the Government to stand idly by. I strongly urge the Government to consider how best to implement a well defined music strategy,’ Lord Storey said.

He also suggested that to attract more overseas music tourists, government should engage with existing tourist bodies and authorities across Britain and help them market themselves as music tourist destinations.

Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, who is also a non-executive director of the national tourism agency, VisitBritain, supported storey’s view.

‘We are not doing as well as we could for music tourism,’ Liddel said. ‘We need to have more resource behind promoting our music tourism.’ She added that it was important to develop the overseas music visitor as they accounted for nearly 20 percent of music tourism spend. Glasgow’s indie venue, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, and events and festivals like T in the Park are already well known.

‘We have the talent, the determination and the worldwide focus. Let us make this a key pillar of our tourism strategy into the future,’ Liddel said.

Presently, UK Music is researching a major report on music tourism, which will provide information on the economic impact of music tourists and information on spending. Liberal Democratic peer, Lord Clement-Jones, said that he expected the report to prompt Government to partner with VisitBritain, the music industry, the tourism and hospitality industries and others to identify the real ‘levers and barriers’ to developing music tourism in the country.