You are currently viewing ‘It puts us on the world stage’: Liverpool hopes for Eurovision economic boost

‘It puts us on the world stage’: Liverpool hopes for Eurovision economic boost


On Saturday night, the winner of the 67th Eurovision Song Contest will be announced in Liverpool. While favourites Sweden will be hopeful of securing a seventh victory, British ministers and city officials are confident that the event will also be a success for the UK.

In a reflection of how tricky the financial implications of hosting the international song competition can be, an episode of a popular sitcom centred on a supposed attempt by the Irish, who top the league table, to lose rather than face the cost of winning it again.

However, organisers say the event will this year deliver financially and culturally for Liverpool, which is serving as host on behalf of last year’s winner, Ukraine, owing to Russia’s invasion.

“People are surprised how big an event this is for Liverpool,” said Noel Curran, director-general of the European Broadcasting Union, the alliance of public service media groups that organises the contest with city officials and the BBC, Britain’s national broadcaster. “There is a massive, massive interest.”

Theresa Grant, interim chief executive of Liverpool City Council, said the city’s goal in hosting the competition was economic recovery, pointing to the 50,000 jobs that are tied to a visitor economy worth almost £5bn.

“We expect Eurovision to help Liverpool get back to pre-pandemic levels of visitor activity,” she said. “It really puts us on the world stage as a city.”

Music fans watch the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool on Thursday
Music fans watch the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool on Thursday © Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

During the course of the event, Liverpool could generate up to £40mn in tourist revenue, according to news-and-insights/news-room/press-releases/economic-analysis/2023/may/eurovision-fans-predicted-to-spend-40m-in-liverpool.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener” data-trackable=”link”>data from NatWest bank. Of that, about £28mn is expected to come from overseas visitors.

“If they take in £40mn in terms of the spend in the city, then that would have to be a profit making venture for them,” said Curran. “The fact that we continue to get so many cities who want to compete against each other to host means they absolutely see the value.”

Liverpool City Council has forecast about £25mn in economic benefit in the short term, but Grant said the estimate looked conservative, in view of the 100,000-plus visitors recorded in the lead-up to Saturday.

People have been drawn not just by the grand final but also by the Eurovision “village” and associated arts, music and cultural events. There were long queues this week outside the event’s official merchandise shop in the city centre, while even modest hotels were charging hundreds of pounds for rooms for the weekend.

The Italian city of Turin, which hosted last year’s edition, saw visitor numbers rise by 18 per cent during the Eurovision period and an increase of 68 per cent in overnight stays, of which two-fifths were people from overseas. In total, 55,000 visitors went to Turin for Eurovision.

City officials said the contest had a “positive impact” of about €100mn, with €23mn coming from tourism and the remaining €66mn deemed to be the equivalent of promoting the city using traditional international advertising.

The economic value to the host country in part depends on how effectively the chosen city, local broadcaster and sponsors exploit its commercial potential.

Eurovision itself is a non-profit event, funded by a fee from participating national broadcasters, including in the host country, and extra money from the host city.

The UK government has committed £10mn to this year’s edition, earmarked for security as well as a wider cultural festival that has included public events and installations showcasing Ukrainian artists. It also helped the BBC create content from Ukraine for the show, with production efforts co-ordinated with the local broadcaster.

Eurovision fans arrive by train this week in the run up to the event
Eurovision fans arrive by train this week in the run-up to the event © Phil Noble/Reuters

Liverpool City Council and the local combined authority have each pledged £2mn, with other funds from the local business improvement district, the National Lottery and Arts Council England, a public body.

Most of the bill for the staging and broadcasting of the main events is met by the BBC as host network, alongside contributions from other national broadcasters. The corporation provides the global feed for Eurovision, which is expected to attract 160mn viewers this year.

The estimated costs to the BBC have not been disclosed, but it will benefit from ticket sales and money from local sponsorship of the city and events related to Eurovision, even if it does not allow the sponsorship or advertising that commercial European broadcasters can carry. These will feature on Eurovision’s YouTube channel and other social media platforms.

Moroccanoil, a beauty brand, is the main sponsor this year; others include social media app TikTok and liqueur brand Baileys, which has employed former Austrian winner Conchita Wurst as an ambassador. Local sponsors this year include tech group Google and airline easyJet.

Martin Green, who leads the BBC team responsible for Eurovision, said the event would more than justify the investment, pointing to the celebrations around Liverpool and the twice-daily live shows in the run-up to the final.

“This is why the BBC exists,” he said, arguing that the contest was one of the last “appointment to view” TV occasions. Alongside King Charles’s coronation, he said the event made this a “defining week for the BBC . . . and it has risen to the occasion brilliantly”.

Curran also pointed out that the event bucked the wider decline in traditional TV, given rising numbers skewed to younger audiences, many of which host Eurovision parties in the UK.

“They’re accessing digitally, but a lot of them are still watching linear TV. It’s the biggest live music event in the world,” he said.

Much of the activity in the host city this week was focused on reaffirming ties with co-host Ukraine.

UK culture secretary Lucy Frazer said that “while the eyes of the world will be on Liverpool this weekend for Eurovision, our hearts will be with people in Ukraine who are fighting for their sovereignty and survival”.

“With sellout shows all week and a fantastic programme that celebrates the best of UK and Ukrainian culture, it is sure to deliver a massive boost to the local economy,” she said.


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