Outdoor events contribute more than £30 billion to the UK economy – that’s the headline figure to come out of a report, launched at the House of Commons yesterday (October 24).

New research, carried out by Bournemouth University on behalf of the Events Industry Forum (EIF) and funded by sales of The Purple Guide, revealed that outdoor events have been much undervalued for the contribution they make to the economy.

According to the figures, outdoor events provide employment for 589,000 people and are attended by 141,500,000 people who spend £39.5 million at events.

The research divides outdoor events into five types – music, arts and culture, fairs and shows, recreation and corporate – and drills down in each category.

Dr Caroline Jackson, Professor Adam Blake and Jon Hibbert from Bournemouth University conducted the research, which surveyed more than 4,400 UK residents, “a representation of the UK population” to understand their perception of events, including those who had not even attended an outdoor event.

The figures state that events create a positive image for the community where they are located (80 per cent), offer a feeling of optimism for all involved (77 per cent) and create a sense of community spirit (70 per cent). Furthermore, respondents also thought that events are safe and secure (77 per cent), activities are of good quality (79 per cent) and site layouts are clear and accessible (77 per cent). Of concern for a minority of people are congestion (24 per cent), antisocial behaviour (15 per cent) and waste (11 per cent).

Steve Heap, chair of the EIF, called the research a piece of valuable work.

Jackson said: “Thanks to the EIF for having faith in us to make the step and do the research.

“We had festival and exhibition data but we were limited on outdoor events information.

“Outdoor events happen all the time and we don’t always recognise that they are happening around us. There’s year-round activity and no down time any more.

“The temporary nature of events make them a higher risk. They are potentially under threat because of austerity so we needed to argue their case – socially and economically.”

Pike added that in terms of income generated, the outdoor events industry is larger than forestry and fishing, agriculture, air transport and recreation.

To download the full report, click here.

Image: Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival