Despite the fact that the UK is in a recession the events industry remains as strong as ever (EIF, 2011). Figures published by BVEP (2010) show that the events industry is actually growing. In 2010 the industry was worth £36.1 billion and it’s predicted that by the year 2020 the industry will be worth over £48 billion. These figures are evidence that events can aid the country’s economic growth, helping to reduce the recession. The importance of large-scale events is evident in the UK from the recent activity, for example the London 2012 Olympics, the Rugby World Cup in 2015 and the unsuccessful FIFA World Cup 2018 bid. This shows how much importance is placed on large-scale events in the UK. The fact that the UK won two out of three of these bids shows that the country is well prepared to bid for and stage large-scale events. However, cities world-wide have adapted to holding large-scale events. These cities are now competing to become known as a prime location for events, with cities bidding against rival cities in order to gain the accolade of hosting these various events (Richards & Palmer, 2010). Though, it’s not just hosting the event that attracts cities to bid; it’s also the various impacts that can be generated by the event. These impacts can affect different key aspects such as the economy, tourism, culture, image and regeneration in the host community. It is worth noting that the impacts generated by events aren’t always necessarily positive. (Bowdin, 2011; Getz, 2007; Allen et al. 2011). Event impact studies are a way to measure these effects. This essay will aim to assess the value, validity and reliability of several different types of event impact studies, including longitudinal, ex-ante (before the event) and ex-post (after the event) studies as well as focusing on the models and techniques used to gather data.
There are several longitudinal event impact studies which, rather than focusing on one particular impact, looks at all of the impacts from an event. Garcia et al. (2010) produced a study analysing the impacts generated by Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture in 2008. The report was commissioned to begin in 2005 and concluded in 2010. Five key impacts were analysed in the report; Cultural access and participation, economy and tourism, cultural vibrancy and sustainability, image and perception and finally governance and delivery process. The report analysed these impacts before, during and after the ECoC year, meaning that a lot of impetus was put into analysing how the ECoC affected Liverpool over a long timeframe, not just in 2008. The report concluded that each of the impact areas improved from 2005 to 2010 and estimated that the benefits of the positive impacts would continue in the years after 2010. However, the ECoC is difficult to measure as it was made up of over 7,000 events throughout the year, attracting an estimated audience number of nearly 10 million people. Therefore, the numbers and figures published in the study are based on estimates and don’t factor in audience variables such as local residents, who are people that live in Liverpool and would be contributing to the impacts regardless of the events, and casual visitors, people who are in Liverpool for reasons other than ECoC events. These factors reduce the reliability and validity of the report.
Another similar longitudinal report is the BOP (2011) ‘Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study’ which analyses the impacts generated by the 2010 Edinburgh Festival. The report looks at economic, social, cultural, media and environmental impacts and then compares them to an impact study produced for the 2004/05 festivals. The primary data gathered for the study came from a series of visitor surveys. These surveys implemented a bottom-up method in order to be more flexible with how and when the surveys