Festivals and events in Lichfield have added £9.2million to the local economy, a study has claimed.
Lichfield District Council commissioned researchers from Bournemouth University to assess the impact of special events in the city.
A number of music, food and retail festivals take place throughout the year.
But as demand rises, the local authority called in analysts to help understand the impact and the value in continuing to support such events.
A report to a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s economic growth, environment and development overview and scrutiny committee next week said the financial benefits were clear to see.
“In 2018/19, there were just less than 350,000 visits to the key events held within Lichfield, with a total on‐site and off‐site spend of £9.2million.
“Of this, £3.7million was spent at the events themselves, £2.6million was spent within Lichfield, and £2.9million was spent on the trip as a whole outside of Lichfield.
“This study indicates that visitors spend just less than £2million on food and drink at the key events within Lichfield, and spend £1.2million on purchasing goods from stalls to take away from the event.
“Visitors spend just over £300,000 on tickets at the key events held within Lichfield, and more than £250,000 on additional entertainment and leisure activities at the events.
“More than £400,000 was spent within Lichfield on accommodation, while £227,000 was spent on travel and transport (including parking) within Lichfield.”Report from Bournemouth University researchers
“Views on the impact of key events on businesses were mixed”
The report added that key events across the year supported the equivalent of 113 full time jobs.
It admitted however that some local businesses did not see a direct financial benefit from local festivals, with just over one in six companies saying they were directly involved with any of the festivals.
“While more than one in ten (15%) businesses feel that they experience increased sales or revenue on days that key events are held, more than half of the businesses feel that they experience decreased sales or revenue (51%).
“Businesses were asked whether they change the operation of their business on key event days to determine the impact they have on local trade.
“Overall, views on the impact of key events on businesses were mixed.
“Just less than half of the businesses agree that some customers are deterred from the general area that key events are held (48%), and 45% agree that they have a negative impact on their business by drawing people away from their business to the event.
“In addition, 11% of businesses agree that the key events help raise the profile of their business.
“However, roughly one‐fifth of businesses agree that the key events offer them access to people who they would not otherwise be able to reach (22%), key events are important for their business success (19%), and that their passing trade increases on days that key events are held (18%).
“It is therefore important to consider the impact that the key events have on local businesses and their trade.”Report from Bournemouth University researchers
“More than 340,000 people attended festivals and events”
The study said more than 340,000 people had attended festivals and events such as the Lichfield Bower during the year.
Of those 32% were from Lichfield with 8% from Burntwood, while less than 1% were from overseas.
Age analysis also showed that the events in the city were attracting a greater proportion of people in the 45-64 age bracket, with 67% of all visitors travelling in by car.
“Visitors were asked to indicate what role the event played in their decision to visit Lichfield on the day of the event.
“Of locals, 34% indicated that it was their sole reason for visiting, with a further 29% stating that it was their main reason, and 27% indicating that they were coming in to Lichfield anyway so thought they would visit the event.
“In contrast, only 16% of non‐locals indicated that it was their sole reason for visiting Lichfield, and 32% stated that they had never heard of the event before their visit.
“When looking at the individual events, visitors to the Food Festival, the Lichfield Greenhill Bower and the Rotary Cars in the Park/Lichfield Gin, Cheese & Ale Festival were significantly more likely to state that the event was their sole or main reason for visiting in comparison to visitors to the Home and Garden Festival.
“Visitors to the Home and Garden Festival were significantly more likely to indicate that they were coming into Lichfield anyway so thought they would visit the event or that they had never heard of the event before their visit compared to visitors to all other events.”Report from Bournemouth University researchers
“A source of community spirit and pride”
The report said that while the current line-up of festivals were clearly a boost to the city’s economy, different types of events should be considered in future.
“Key events attract more than 340,000 event visitors throughout the year, and generate more than £9million in visitor spend, with more than £5million of this attributed to visits to Lichfield that would not have occurred if the events were not held.
“As well as the economic benefit, there are a number of community benefits created by the key events within Lichfield.
“The events are a source of community spirit and pride for local residents, and help to create a positive image of Lichfield and one that is inclusive for all.
“There are also a number of recommendations in terms of the type of events that should be supported within the city.
“It is also important that key events reflect what they are marketed as, with stalls, activities and products reflecting the theme of the event.
“More events could be encouraged throughout the year to account for seasonal peaks and troughs.
“A more varied event programme, celebrating the history and heritage of Lichfield may also attract a wider audience.”Report from Bournemouth University researchers
The report will be discussed at the meeting on 21st January.