Music money matters: Gig and festival tourism revealed to boost Manchester economy to tune of millions

By Richard O’Meara

More than a million gig and festival-going tourists boosted the North-West economy to the tune of £168million last year.

The report, compiled by UK Music and VisitBritain, showed that £1.3billion was pumped into the UK economy through ticket sales, hospitality, public transport and other sectors.

More than a third of the average live music crowd in Manchester last year was made up of domestic or international tourists.

While 35% were visitors from elsewhere in the UK, nearly 2% were from abroad.

Sandra Waterhouse, 23, is from Brisbane, Austrailia, studying in Glasgow, and currently visiting Manchester.

She said: “There are so many gigs and big club nights in Manchester I could probably go to something different every night if I had the money.”

Altogether 2012 saw 1,086,000 people flock to the North West to get their dancing shoes on nod along appreciatively at a concert or festival.

Last weekend Sandra attended both the Deep House focused Curated by Julio Bashmore WareHouse Project, and a gig by Swedish electronic duo The Knife at the same venue.

“I was chatting to people at the Bashmore night from all over Europe, and I even bumped into a couple of Aussies in there, “she said.

Despite its recent troubles tens of thousands have already passed through the Project’s doors and owners expect all the dates this year to sell out.

Sandra said, “I was a little bit shocked at how diverse the crowd was, and that some people were from even further away than me.”

The North West drew an impressive 45,000 music tourists from overseas last year – far more than every other region apart from the capital.

Looking at festival attendance alone, around 58% of attendees of the Parklife Weekender and other music festivals in the area were not from Manchester.

The Stone Roses homecoming gigs also undoubtedly had a large part to play in pulling in music lovers from outside the city.

Jo Dipple, Chief Executive of UK Music, was one of the nearly three quarters of a million who flocked to see the Manchester legends reform.

She said:  “In the mud and the rain, singing along to Ian Brown, it was clear that not all these fans were from Manchester – or even the UK.

“British live music’s primary job is to put on great shows which attract thousands of music fans.  

“The by-product of that is to encourage more of them to travel around Britain and also for more tourists to visit this country.”

Outside the direct spend by tourists purchasing pints, hotel rooms and gig tickets nearly 2,500 people in the North West are employed full-time as a direct result of music tourism.

Ben Campbell, 21, works on the bar at Manchester Academy, home to dozens of big name gigs every month.

He said: “You just don’t realise just how many people from outside Manchester are coming to some of these gigs until you work here.

“It’s pretty hard trying to work out people’s orders over the music when every other person has a different accent, but no matter where people are from they always seem to have a great time here.”

With a unique musical heritage spanning from Joy Division to Oasis, to newer acts like The Courteeners, huge club nights like the Warehouse Project, and summer highlights like Parklife it’s hard to see the Manchester music scene’s appeal waning any time soon.

Just a few of the highlights this month include gigs from Motörhead, The Happy Mondays and the Stereophonics, as well as WHP shows featuring Annie Mac, Disclosure and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

Image courtesy of Nrk P3, with thanks

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