Lord Storey: Music can attract more Daytrippers

Lord Storey will today lead a debate in the Chamber on the impact of music on tourism. Devising and implementing a music strategy, he writes here, would allow the UK to assist and attract even greater numbers of overseas music tourists

Lord Storey
Lord Storey

Today in the Lords I have tabled a debate asking the Government what plans they have to support and promote the impact of music upon tourism. For many years, I have voiced concerns that the benefits our shared musical heritage could have on tourism aren’t being fully realised. Indeed, as a Liverpudlian and former council leader, I have seen first-hand the positive impact music can make on local tourist economies. But we must also consider the impact music tourism can have on the country as a whole.

Last summer’s Olympic and Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies celebrated the success of British music down the ages. The music featured in the ceremonies sparked a huge surge in sales. Emilie Sande’s Read All About It (Part III) sold 449 copies in the week leading up to the closing ceremony, yet more than 45,000 the following week. London’s reestablished status as an Olympic city means it now draws in new visitors from overseas, who then go on to visit other parts of the UK. Now, more than ever, we must harness the international goodwill that British music has generated for its part in our hugely successful Games. Music tourism – if supported properly by the Government – can and will play a vital role in attracting visitors year after year.

Of course my own city of Liverpool is steeped in musical tradition. Liverpool’s music scene has been supported by some excellent community musical organisations, including Beat in The Mersey, who are aiming to tell the story of Liverpool’s musical history through live song, dance and music. By 2009, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic were performing to some 45,000 people (including 22,000 children) each year. That’s on top of 17,500 kids attending their schools concerts. In Harmony is another exemplary scheme. Running since the summer of 2008, it’s a national programme which aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities, using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making.

Music festivals now take place in all corners of the UK, from the southern coastline of the Isle of Wight to the Scottish highlands with T in the Park. Research published in 2011  by UK Music found that international music tourists attending large-scale live events contribute more than £247m to our economy. The last detailed economic assessment of Glastonbury (carried out in 2007) saw a total direct spend of £73.2m – with 22.5% (£21.2m) going straight to the local area. Unsurprisingly, five of the top 20 international music festivals take place in the UK – including two of the top five. These statistics simply cannot be ignored. The world’s love of our musical heritage must be harnessed.

I urge the Government to consider the implementation of a well-defined music strategy. We should take encouragement from the Ontario administration’s music strategy intends to boost concert attendance, visitor spending and overall economic impacts. Equally, the primary purpose of Northern Ireland’s strategy is to increase the economic contribution of the music industry to agreed targets, such as increasing industry-jobs from 780 to 2,016.

Devising and implementing a music strategy will offers real economic and cultural opportunities. It will allow the UK to assist and attract even greater numbers of overseas music tourists. We are extremely lucky to have such a strong and vibrant musical history, but if we are to succeed in making Britain an even more attractive music destination, we must not only build upon the country’s musical titans but empower our communities, schools and citizens to also play their part.

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

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