Unique Edinburgh Festivals programmes strengthen recovery

28 June 2023

Independent research published today (28 June 2023) confirms the huge contribution that Edinburgh’s Festivals make to the economic vitality of Edinburgh and Scotland.

The latest study - conducted across the festivals in 2022 and surveying 22,000 people - shows that the Edinburgh Festivals continue to be Scotland’s world-leading cultural brands. These unrivalled cultural programmes deliver a major economic uplift to businesses, jobs and livelihoods in the city and further afield – helping to rebuild sectors devastated by the pandemic and an especially important boost during the cost-of-living crisis, with the Festivals themselves having a stronger focus on fair work and local suppliers.

Key findings from the study show that the Edinburgh Festivals in 2022 are:

Edinburgh Festivals are World leading cultural brands

  • FACT: 3.2 million attendances generated by around 700,000 attendees
  • FACT: Remain on a par with FIFA World Cup [3.4m], despite reduced scale in 2022

Edinburgh Festivals are Increasing economic powerhouses

  • FACT: Economic impact increased in Edinburgh from £280m [2015] to £407m [2022]
  • FACT: Economic impact increased in Scotland from £313m [2015] to £367m [2022]

Edinburgh Festivals are Important drivers in the national economy

  • FACT: Proportion of non-Scottish staying visitors increased from 25% [2015] to 31% [2022]
  • FACT: Spend by non-Scottish staying visitors increased from £95m [2015] to £137m [2022]
  • FACT: Impact supported 5000 FTE jobs across Scotland

Edinburgh Festivals provide Crucial support to city jobs and livelihoods

  • FACT: Impact created 5850 FTE jobs in Edinburgh [5650 in 2015]
  • FACT: 51% of spend on accommodation (c£85m), 25% on food & drink (c£42m) and a further 19% on shopping (c£31m)

Edinburgh Festivals offer Incredible value for money

  • FACT: Generate £33 in economic impact for every £1 invested from the public purse

For the first time this Impact Study also identifies what the figures look like when the economic actions of locals are included in the calculations – previous impact studies have focussed solely on the Festivals’ role in bringing new money into the economy. This further analysis shows the importance, previously only anecdotal, of local and Scottish audience spending driven by the Festivals rather than by other activities:

Edinburgh Festivals are Loved by locals

  • FACT: Had 1.5m attendances by residents of Edinburgh/Scotland [c50% of total audience]
  • FACT: Contribute £492m to Edinburgh and £620m to Scotland in gross impact
  • FACT: Support 7,150 FTE jobs in Edinburgh and 8,500 FTE jobs in Scotland
  • FACT: Overnight audience spend from across Scotland has doubled since last report

Introducing the Study, Dr Simon Gage, Chair of Festivals Edinburgh commented:

The positive impact our Festivals have on businesses, jobs and livelihoods is great news for the people of our city and country - and we need to ensure that this economic recovery is built on a solid foundation of good responsible growth, looking after our people, our place and our planet. In this instance our impact is primarily felt by the tourism and hospitality sectors, not by the festivals themselves and the people who make them happen – in fact, their unique cultural programmes are hanging each year by a precarious financial thread, damaged by Covid lockdowns and over 15 years of declining investment. We call on all funders and supporters to come together to consider their long-term role in helping the Edinburgh Festivals remain Scotland’s world leading cultural brands and a crucial economic powerhouse for people’s jobs and livelihoods.

Commenting on the Study, Richard Naylor, Director of Research at BOP consulting said:

This Study confirms and further strengthens the key message from the earlier Impact Studies that the Festivals are a major contributor to both the local Edinburgh economy and the national Scottish economy. This economic impact spreads far beyond the immediate cultural economy, with the biggest beneficiary businesses being those in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Richard Naylor also stated:

That the Festivals have bounced back so strongly shows the importance of communal events in our post-pandemic world, with audiences and visitors increasingly seeking out unique cultural experiences such as the Edinburgh Festivals.

The full Impact Study can be downloaded HERE, together with an in-depth Technical Report HERE.

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