Scotland outperformed the rest of the UK last year with an annual increase of more than 15% in visitors to its attractions, new figures show.
Edinburgh Festivals Add £313m To Scottish Economy
Edinburgh's year-round festivals generate £313 million for the Scottish economy, according to a major report on the overall contribution made by the cultural events.
The figure for 2015 represents an increase of 24% on the total recorded five years earlier, with the tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors the main beneficiaries.
The study also found the festivals attract combined audiences of more than 4.5 million - putting them on a par with the Fifa World Cup - and that they support more than 6,000 Scottish jobs.
The analysis is contained in an independent impact study which was commissioned by Festivals Edinburgh.
Researchers BOP Consulting analysed the overall impact of Edinburgh's 12 festivals and found they, are estimated to have generated £279.6 million in the city over 2015, an increase of 19% on the 2010 study.
They were worth £312.6 million to the Scottish economy as a whole last year, up by a quarter from the £252 million recorded in 2010.
The festivals also supported 5,660 new full-time equivalent jobs in Edinburgh last year, and 6,021 in Scotland, the latter figure representing an increase on the 4,700 recorded five years earlier.
The report also looked at the quality of the experience for festival-goers as well as the events' impact on the city.
Some 92% of those quizzed said the festivals had given them a chance to see something they would not otherwise get to see.
The satisfaction figure among audiences came in at 95%, the highest-rated outcome of the whole study. A total of 89% of local festival-goers said the events increase their pride in the city.
Festivals Edinburgh director Julia Amour said: "This report tells us that the festivals are unparalleled in terms of their quality, in terms of their scale of impact and also in terms of the level of benefits they are returning to local people and businesses.
"We've passed the 4.5 million mark for attendances, which reminds us what an extraordinary world-scale event we have in the capital with our festivals.
"We knew that the ticket sales had gone up by about 20% (in the five-year period) so we were quietly confident that we would be on a growth curve, but to find that the benefit for Scotland as a whole is even stronger than our ticket sales would suggest is a really great result.''
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Edinburgh can quite rightly be proud of the stage it provides to our world-renowned festivals and the welcome hospitality it provides to visitors, performers, promoters and many, many others through the season.
"Festivals provide a platform to showcase our rich culture and exceptional creative talent to a global audience, and as the 2016 summer festival season gets under way I look forward to seeing what we have in store.''
The research was based on responses from more than 29,000 people questioned last year. It follows a similar study last conducted in 2010 and published the following year.
Edinburgh's festivals, which run from around Easter to January, are: the International Science Festival, Imaginate Festival, International Film Festival, Jazz and Blues Festival, Art Festival, Festival Fringe, Military Tattoo, International Festival, International Book Festival, Mela, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Edinburgh's Hogmanay.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcom Roughead hailed the ``incredible'' research findings.
He said: "The festivals are a real jewel in our tourism crown and it's their incredible international reputation that draws millions from around the world each year to experience the dynamic delights of the city.
"From bringing in the bells under a blanket of fireworks above Edinburgh Castle, to a summer of music, theatre and comedy across some of the city's most unusual venues, the Edinburgh festivals are all unique and truly out of this world, and I hope many more make the trip to the festival city this year to experience some of them in the flesh.''
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