A cross party group of influential peers has called on Government to develop a new strategy to support music-based tourism and help grow the UK economy.
The call was made last night during a House of Lords debate on the impact of music on tourism.
The debate’s sponsor LibDem Lord Storey said music festivals have been attracting unprecedented numbers of overseas visitors and have been pouring money into local economies. He argued that the world’s "evident love" of the UK’s musical heritage should now be harnessed and used to support music tourism. A 2011 report estimated music tourists spend £1.4bn and sustain over 20,000 jobs.
"I have seen first-hand the positive impact music can make on local tourist economies. But, we must also consider the impact music can have on the country as a whole," Lord Storey said. "Great Britain simply has too much potential for musical tourism for the Government to stand idly by. I strongly urge the Government to consider how best to implement a well defined music strategy."
Storey suggested that to attract more overseas music tourists, Government should emphasise and engage with existing tourist bodies and authorities across Britain and help them market themselves as music tourist destinations.
Storey’s stance was supported by Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, who is also a non-executive director of the national tourism agency VisitBritain. The Labour peer said Glasgow’s indie venue King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and events and festivals like T in the Park are well known. But, she added a lot more could be done to support them.
"We are not doing as well as we could for music tourism. We need to have more resource behind promoting our music tourism," she argued, adding that it was important to cultivate the overseas music visitor because although they only make up a minority of music tourists, they account for nearly 20% of music tourism spend. "We have the talent, the determination and the worldwide focus. Let us make this a key pillar of our tourism strategy into the future."
LibDem peer Lord Clement-Jones, who instigated the Live Music Act, was among the ten peers who took part in last night’s debate, including Conservative Lord Black of Brentwood. Clement-Jones also called for a "properly joined-up strategy" for music tourism and said a new report being prepared by UK Music could be a part of that.
UK Music is currently researching a major report on music tourism, which will provide data on the economic impact of music tourists alongside information on spending. Clement-Jones told the House he hoped the report will prompt Government to team with VisitBritain, the music industry, the tourism and hospitality industries and others to identify the "real levers and barriers" to growing music tourism at national level.
Baroness Northover, the Government’s culture spokesperson, accepted the debate was right to emphasise the importance of music and tourism and praised UK Music’s contribution to its understanding.