Research reveals £70m boost for area from Hay Festival visitors

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 06:43 pm

New research unveiled this week* shows Hay Festival’s local economic impact totalled more than £70m in the past three years, generating £25.8m for the area in 2018 alone, up 26% on 2016.

Analysing visitor spend within a 30-minute drive from the festival site, the new statistics from independent data collection provider QRS Research shine a light on the direct economic value the festival brings in encouraging global tourism to Hay.

Published in the festival’s annual report, the survey shows a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 77% for the festival, deemed excellent. Attendees also gave an average satisfaction score of 8.6/10.

Other report highlights include an increase in tickets sold to 273,000 (up 18,000 on 2017), while 41% of festival attendees stayed in local accommodation for an average of four nights, with attendees from over 40 countries, from Afghanistan to Venezuela.

Maggie Kerr, development director of Hay Festival, said: “Every year during festival week Hay throws its doors open to the world. The festival, Hay’s bookshops, shops, galleries, cafés, restaurants, campsites, hotels and community all give a welcome like no other place. Our research shows how valuable these visitors are to the town’s economy and how important the warm welcome they receive is to their experience. We’ll continue to work closely with our neighbours and friends to ensure that keeps moving forwards, but overall it’s good news for the town.”

Andrew Williams, chair of Hay-on-Wye Chamber of Commerce, said: “The festival is always a huge highlight of the business year here in Hay. As a Chamber of Commerce we know that our members are thrilled to see the impact on the local economy of the festival visitors. We work closely with Hay Festival to encourage more people to visit our wonderful town and look forward to welcoming them. Roll on 2019.”

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “Hay Festival enriches the minds of those attending every year with thought provoking talks and events, this research goes to show how the local economy also benefits from the Festival – and is testimony to the warm welcome that visitors receive in Hay every year. The Festival has long been one of Wales’ iconic events and long may the success continue.”

Taking place 24 May-3 June, Hay Festival 2018 enjoyed a record year as readers from around the world were joined by 700 of the greatest writers, global policy makers, pioneers and innovators in 800 events across 11 days showcasing the latest ideas in the arts, sciences and current affairs, alongside a rich schedule of music, comedy and entertainment for all ages.

Festival events and projects reached the widest audience yet, with live streams into libraries across the UK via The British Library’s Living Knowledge Network on Saturday 26 May, and via the enhanced BBC partnership that saw live recordings for iPlayer, TV and radio shows on site, including BBC World, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3, BBC Two’s Front Row Late, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio H&W and BBC Asian Network’s Big Debate.

Meanwhile, outreach work continued to grow in scale and impact with 8,500 pupils attending the festival free of charge, while 92 schools across the country live-streamed events into their classrooms for free, thanks to funding by Hay Festival Foundation and the Welsh Government.

* Research conducted by QRS in June 2018

Hay Festival Winter Weekend takes place 22-25 November 2018 with early-birds on sale now at Hay Festival 2019 takes place 23 May-2 June 2019.

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