NWDA supported events provide £150m to economy

Michael Hunt

The North West Development Agency said major events held in the region and supported by the agency have contributed £150m to the North West economy in the last five years.

Following the success of Manchester's 2002 Commonwealth Games, the NWDA became the first Regional Development Agency to launch a major events strategy in 2004 with an aim at positioning the North West as a world-leading destination for hosting major events.

Peter Mearns, executive director of marketing and communications at NWDA, said: "The Commonwealth Games attracted an extra 300,000 visitors per year who generated an extra £12m in increased tourism spend per year which demonstrates the economic impact that hosting major events can have."

Impact from major events has been growing year on year and over the year to March 2009, the NWDA supported 25 major events across the North West, which brought 1.75 million visitors to the region and generated £45m to the region's economy.

The NWDA said the £150m figure has been achieved through a combination of sporting, cultural and business events which has included:

  • The Turner Prize being held outside of London for the first time in 2007. It generated £10m and attracted over 71,000 visitors to the exhibition at Tate Liverpool
  • The first Great North Swim was launched in 2008 in Cumbria, with the support of the NWDA which generated around £750,000 in economic impact. The event became a two-day event for 2009 and attracted over 6,000 competitors.
  • The Paralympic World Cup has been held in Manchester for five years running. In 2008 there were almost 12,000 visitors and an economic impact of £1m.
  • Ironman UK was recently held in Bolton for the first time. The NWDA said it suggested Bolton as an ideal location for the event and worked closely with Bolton Council and Ironman UK to stage it. The international event attracted over 1,600 athletes from Australia and Argentina and will be held in Bolton in 2010 and 2011, contributing around £9m to the regional economy in total.
  • The NWDA was a partner in the development of the Manchester International Festival which generated an economic impact of £28.8m in 2007 and attracted 200,930 visitors. The NWDA helped in developing the positioning of the Festival and provided initial financial support which helped lever private sector funding of £3.6m

The NWDA has stressed that these major events in the region help provide contracts for business, with the Manchester International Festival in 2007 cited as an example when £7.8m was spent on service providers, which included commissioning the programme. These included 76 local artists and 310 service suppliers.

The NWDA also said over the past five years the major events it has been associated with have attracted about 4 million business and leisure visitors to the region and created a positive image which contributes to the economic development of the region, including over 70 hours of national and international television coverage.

The regeneration agency for the region also mentioned that the major events staged in the North West, with its the support, sustain on average 450 jobs per year.

In 2008 events supported by the NWDA, including the European MTV Music Awards and Turner Prize, complemented the Liverpool European Capital of Culture programme which generated £800m in economic benefit and 15 million cultural visits.

Across the region, the NWDA led on strategies and sponsored events to ensure the impact of Capital of Culture was felt everywhere. Cheshire's Year of Gardens, Lancashire's Year of Food, Cumbria's Year of Adventure and Manchester's Year of Sport enjoyed their own successes and attracted an additional 500,000 visitors between them.

The NWDA said it is now looking to ensure that the region fully capitalises on the country's 'decade of sport' and, as well as taking the regional lead on the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, is also ensuring that the North West fully benefits from the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup and England's bid to stage the FIFA World Cup in 2018.

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