Edinburgh Festival: The value of this £1 billion event to city's economy has been clear for decades – Steve Cardownie

As a former Festival and Events Champion, I was more than a little interested when I read this paper’s front page on Monday.

Bold headlines proclaimed that festivals can drive the capital’s recovery, according to Liz McAreavey the chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce who said: “What has been really clear over the last 18 months is the connection between the economy and festivals”.

However I would suggest that “the connection between the economy and festivals” has been really clear for decades as numerous studies throughout the years have clearly pointed out the economic benefits of the festivals to the city, both in terms of spend and provision of jobs.

Douglas McWilliams, deputy chairman of the London-based Centre for Economic and Business Research, said in 2019: “It is likely that Edinburgh festival generates about £500 million in additional direct expenditure in Edinburgh… We think that the indirect impacts of the festival spending are an additional £560 million. So the total direct and indirect impact is a bit over £1 billion.”

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When you take into account the financial boost to the city’s coffers that the other annual festivals contribute, then it is more than obvious that Edinburgh’s festivals are interwoven with the financial well-being of the city.

The recent Prospectus for Growth document said “city businesses need to do more to support our live events, culture and tourism sector” and I couldn’t agree more.

I was always certain that the private sector could do more to ensure that the festivals remained in good health and that it should not just be left up to the public sector – so any encouragement is more than welcome.


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