Ramble On: The relationship between music and tourism

As Bon Jovi are revealed as the biggest attraction of the year, Breaking Travel News here takes a look at the impact of the music industry on international tourism.

Bono may have a little less swagger in his walk today, as Bon Jovi replace U2 at the top of the music industry.

The American rockers – famous for hits including Livin’ on a Prayer, You Give Love a Bad Name and Blaze of Glory – took home $201.1 million from their Circle tour last year – more than any other act.

Po-faced U2 slipped to third, with sales totalling $160.9 million.

Sandwiched in between, Australian rock band AC/DC landed at number two for the second year in a row, with tickets sales from their recent tour totalling $177 million.

U2 took the 360° tour around the world

Rockin’ in the Free World

Sizable figures, but only part of the story.

While top musicians rake in the millions, the music industry also provides a wealth of opportunity for the tourism industry.

Thousands of fans from around the world spend hundreds of pounds on travelling to performances by their favourite artists, not to mention on accommodation and other auxiliary costs.

Measuring this impact is not an objective science, however, with the field still being developed.

At the forefront of this movement is Bournemouth University which was commissioned by UK Music earlier this year to undertake research into the economic impacts of music on the tourism sector.

Adam Blake, professor of economics, said: “The importance that music plays in the visitor economy is not very well understood.

“By attracting visitors to festivals and concerts, as well as promoting the UK around the world, music not only provides revenues for event organisers but also brings income and jobs to much wider groups.

“This research project will provide us with evidence of how important music is to tourism and of the subsequent economic benefits that it brings to the UK.”

Staff from the School of Tourism will assess the importance of music as a driver of tourism in the UK in the project for the umbrella organisation, which represents the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music said: “Music is one of the UK’s crown jewels.

“It is a significant and powerful magnet for both overseas and UK tourists – whether they’re attending one of our many music festivals, visiting our music heritage sites or simply drawn by our reputation as the world’s pre-eminent music-producing nation.”

Two reports are expected from the team in early 2011.

Nearly 200,000 revellers descend on Glastonbury each year

Festival Spirit

But it is not just single bands which attract the crowds. Across the world each year innumerable music festivals see hundreds of thousands of fans making a pilgrimage to watch their favourite acts.

Naturally this is a boon to car rental companies, train operators and coach services, but more esoteric operators also benefit.

Fly Glastonbury, for example, will deliver you to the camp site by helicopter, while the annual Reading Music Festival is well served by cruise operators on the River Thames.

Thousands of holidaymakers also use a festival visit as an excuse to explore a new destination.

Primavera Sound welcomes visitors from all over the world to Barcelona, while Airwaves in Iceland, SXSW in Austin, Texas and Fuji Rock Festival in Japan are just the tip of the tourism iceberg.

Whether from flights, accommodation of hundreds of other associated services, savvy tourism operators can make millions from catering to migrant tourism crowds.

Thousands travel each year to Brooklyn to catch the latest acts


Profits from music festivals can, however, be transient.

No sooner has the final note been played, than the crowds begin to dissipate, leaving only crumpled paper pint glasses in their wake.

In response a number of destinations have attempted to make music their own.

New York, for example, has positioned itself as a hotbed of musical creativity, with Brooklyn at the epicentre. Tourists from around the world flock year round to catch the latest trends.

On the other side of the United States, Portland is so revered Jack White and Loretta Lynn sang about it. Venues such as Berbati’s Pan, the Roseland, the Crystal Ballroom, the Aladdin and the Doug Fir make the city the place to be seen.

Back in the UK, Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Franz Ferdinand, Beta Band, Mogwai, and Snow Patrol all call Glasgow home. All can be seen performing at King Tut’s, watched by hundreds of visitors from across the country.