Business Boost | 19 March 2018 - by Ian Midgley

Report shows City of Culture means business

Hull’s year in the spotlight as the UK’s City of Culture has had a major impact on businesses in the city.

According to the Cultural Transformations report, the first official assessment on what impact UK City of Culture had on the city, the year-long celebration led to a major boost to Hull’s tourism economy and a huge increase in visitor numbers.

The initial findings were revealed by evaluation experts at a two-day conference held at the University of Hull.

Speaking at the event Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, said early results showed hosting City of Culture had been truly transformative for Hull – but cautioned it was only the start of the journey to change the city.

He said: “What has happened in Hull is a perfect example of what investment in the arts can achieve.

“More than five million people came to the City of Culture events during 2017 and that fostered a greater sense of ownership and civic pride in the city.

“But 2017 is a floor and not a ceiling of Hull’s ambitions – and work will now continue to achieve the city’s long term ambitions.

“There are still challenges, much to change and much to achieve, but 2017 is the start of something - not the end.

“We have opened the door for individuals and communities in Hull. We all now have the responsibility to keep that door open to let the opportunity flood through.”

Sir Nicholas praised the importance of partnerships forged between Hull 2017 and local businesses in making the year a roaring success.

Among the headline grabbing statistics were:

  • There were 5.3 million visitors to Hull in 2017
  • The value of tourism to Hull in 2017 was more than £300m for the first time
  • Between £11m and £17m was the total gross value added to the local economy
  • Hotel occupancy increased by 10.5 per cent
  • There has been a growth of nearly 800 more jobs in Hull’s culture and visitor economy since 2013
  • One in four businesses took on more staff in 2017
  • One in five extended opening hours to cope with demand
  • More than half of businesses felt 2017 had contributed to increased turnover
  • The most direct economic impact of the year was the immediate impact of the £32.8m programme delivered by Hull 2017 Ltd
  • More than 640,000 tickets were issued to more than 100,000 unique bookers generating a total revenue of £8.37m. This represented a 13.6 per cent increase in earned revenue across the sector compared to 2015
  • Total spend on arts and cultural activity in the city was four times as high in 2017 than in 2013
  • Of the £3.4bn invested in Hull since 2013, £500m was due to City of Culture
  • Of the £32.8m budget for City of Culture events, 18.5 per cent came from corporate funding

Key findings released by Professor David Atkinson, professor of cultural and historical geography at the University of Hull, revealed that City of Culture had helped encourage a positive perception of the city.

The celebrations generated more than 20,200 items of media coverage, creating the equivalent of £450m worth of advertising.

These led to 59 per cent of people nationally being aware of Hull’s City of Culture status by the end of 2017, compared to 36 per cent in 2016.

In customer service related roles 2,000 frontline business staff and volunteers were trained through 2017 Big Welcome programme.

However, the findings did show there was more work to be done in changing national perceptions of Hull. The results of surveys taken outside Hull suggest that only 51 per cent of UK perceived as an appealing place to visit.

But Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady praised the City of Culture saying it had helped “feed the soul”.

“The pundits laughed when we got the City of Culture – they’re not laughing now. What we have proved is that culture does bring jobs, culture can change people’s lives. We’re never looking back.”

Phil Batty, Hull 2017’s director of public engagement and legacy, will take a look back on the business impact of the City of Culture at KCOM’s free Business Boost event on Thursday, March 22. Breakfast will be provided at the event, which starts at 8.30am and will be held at the KCOM Stadium. To register, click here.