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AIF survey highlights the massive economic benefits of festivals

With Bestival, The End of the Road and Fitz Fest 09 pretty much signaling the end of the UK’s festival season, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) have published the results of a survey of people who attended their members’ festivals and have crunched some numbers to show just exactly what a huge contribution to both the UK and local economies festivals make. The survey of over three thousand festival goers includes some eye catching stats: In 2009 AIF member festivals (which include Big Chill, WOMAD, Bestival and Glade) attracted 340,000 people, who spent in excess of £139 million (ticket, travel, food, drink), £16.3 million of which was spent in local towns and cities; the non camping festival Evolution is estimated to boost the economy of the twin cities of Newcastle and Gateshead by £2.9 million and Bestival generates around £600,00 0 in extra revenue for Ferry companies every year as 30,000 revelers travel to and from the Isle of Wight. A similar survey carried out by South Mendip District Council in 2008 found that Glastonbury, with its 177,500 capacity, turns over £25 million itself and contributes a further £75 million into Somerset’s economy. AIF member festivals, who range is size from 1,000 at Glasgowbury to 40,000 at Creamfields, generate on average £1 million for local economies; Hugh Phillimore, founder of the Cornbury Festival said “Not only do we fill every B&B, pub and hotel within a 10 mile radius; lots of local shops stay open to benefit from the extra custom. Cornbury not only makes a huge contribution to the local economy but also supports fundraising for local schools, brownies, and scouts”.   The AIF survey also looked at the diversity of entertainment on offer at festivals and discovered that for many punters, music is just a small part of the festival experience and in the case of the Secret Garden Party, 70% spend less than half their time watching bands! Finally the survey looked at the environmental impact of festivals, and looks at how better use of public transport and greater car sharing should be encouraged to further reduce festival s’ carbon footprint.  With audience travel being the greatest source of festivals’ greenhouse gas emissions, attention was also paid to the modes of transport used by festival goers. 60% of respondents travelled by car, of which 44% were travelling with three or more sharing the car journey – a figure festival’s are keen to improve on. Claire O’Neill, AIF general manager and co-founder of A Greener Festival said: “It is clear that independent festivals make a significant contribution not only culturally, but also to the local and UK economy” reinforcing the point that with over 300 festivals taking place in the UK each summer, the economic impact on areas of the UK that might otherwise miss out is immense, especially in the current economic climate.