House of Lords lends backing to “music tourism” strategy

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A Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords last week called upon the government to bolster its plans to attract more tourism and investment to the UK’s music industry.

Lord Storey, a Lib Dem peer from Liverpool, opened a short debate on 11 July, asking the Commons “what plans they have to support and promote the impact of music upon tourism.”

He cited Glastonbury as the prime draw for visitors, noting that in 2007, the last detailed summation of direct spending for the festival totalled £73m, around £16m of which purportedly went into Mendip’s local economy.

“Research undertaken by UK Music shows that international music tourists attending large-scale music events contribute at least £247 million to the UK economy,” said Storey. A detailed report from the representational trade body on the economic potential of such events is due to be published next month.

Lord Storey was supported in the debate by a cross party group of Lords members, including the Conservative Lord Black, whose own expertise lay more in “the 4.2 million people attending classical concerts, opera or ballet,” and Labour’s Baroness Liddell, a non-executive director of the official tourist board VisitBritain.

“Music tourists spend more than most other tourists,” she said. “Overseas music tourists account for 5% of music tourism but 18% of music tourism spend. We need to encourage more people to come here to benefit from what we have to offer in our musical offering.”

She also drew attention to the cuts being implemented by the current government, expressing her relief at having taken “only a 5% cut in our budget.”

“If we keep cutting and cutting, however, we are going to get to the stage where we lose the critical mass that allows us to promote industries such as the music industry all around the world.”

In a bid perhaps to ride the Tom Watson wave of unsolicited shoutouts, Lord Storey found time to name-drop some of Liverpool’s best and brightest- and also The Wombats.

He told the Lords: “As I mentioned earlier, my own city of Liverpool is steeped in musical tradition. We are the city that gave the world The Beatles, but there is still a host up of up-and-coming talented musicians including The Wombats and, although yet to be recognised, The Stopouts.”

Not to be outdone, his party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg this week recommended that dance music mogul and Chairman of the Ministry of Sound Group James Palumbo join Storey in the Lords, as a Liberal Democrat peer.

Photo via Flickr under a Creative Commons license