British Live Market Worth $4.8 Billion, Draws 9.5 Million
From the rolling green fields of Glastonbury festival to sell-out runs at London’s cavernous O2 arena, the United Kingdom’s vibrant live music scene continues to be a huge draw to millions of international visitors, according to new figures from umbrella trade organization UK Music.
In 2014, 9.5 million ‘music tourists’ attended a gig or festival in the U.K., helping to generate £3.1 billion ($4.8 billion) in direct and indirect spending, states the second edition of U.K. Music’s "Wish You Were Here" report, which specifically measures the economic impact of foreign and domestic music tourism.
Of those 9.5 million, over 500,000 were overseas tourists visiting the United Kingdom for a live music event -- a 39 percent increase on the amount of overseas music visitors recorded between 2011 and 2014. The average spend of each international tourist was estimated at £751 ($1,170), contributing to over 38,000 full-time jobs sustained by music tourism in 2014 -- a 57 percent increase from the 2012 figure of just over 24,000.
UK Music defines a ‘domestic music tourist’ as someone who has traveled at least three times the average commuting distance in the Government Office Region (GOR) in which the event took place. The criteria for ‘overseas music tourists’ is that they booked tickets to attend a British music event from a country outside the U.K.
Direct spend, which includes tickets, transport and accommodation, from the combined total of music tourists in 2014 totaled £1.9 billion ($3.1 billion) -- up from £1.3 billion ($2 billion) in 2012, when UK Music last carried out its "Wish You Were Here" report. Back then, 6.5 million music loving tourists were reported as attending a gig or festival, generating £2.2 billion in direct and indirect spend in the process. The new figures mark a 34 percent increase in music tourism over the past four years.
The report also includes a number of regional breakdowns, including one on London, which reveals that 3.3 million tourists attended music events in the British capital city in 2014, generating £663 million ($1 billion) for the U.K. economy and helping to sustain close to 5,000 jobs. The average spend by overseas visitors attending music was estimated at £673 ($1,000).
Commenting on the findings, UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple, said: "The U.K.’s rich music heritage and infrastructure has made the U.K. the go-to destination for live music globally and these statistics show how tourism is now a bedrock of British music and the wider economy." Her words were echoed by Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who called the positive news "no surprise."
"British music is legendary around the world and continues to go from strength to strength," Whittingdale went on to say, identifying festivals like Glastonbury for holding "an iconic status on the world music scene and are one of the reasons why international tourism is booming in the U.K."