MILLIONS of pounds have poured into Chester thanks to a summer of events which have brought thousands of people flocking to the city.
Tills in city shops and restaurants are ringing to the tune of £16m more through five weeks of Chestival alone as visitor numbers soar.
A straw poll of shops and businesses suggests that they have cashed in with an average 2% rise in revenue.
McDonalds next to the Town Hall has experienced a massive hike in takings with 25% more cash rolling in than usual thanks to activities in Town Hall Square.
Chester Festivals director Tracy Lynn said: “This has been one of the best years to be in Chester and we at Chester Festivals have really enjoyed delivering these great programmes to so many people over the summer, it really is a great building block for 2011 and sets the standard for our city going forward.”
The inaugural Chestival, which ran from June 12-July 14, included Roman Weekend – attended by 8,500 – and Midsummer Watch and BiG Giant Parade which saw 152,000 people come through the city when normally 110,000 would be expected.
The World Town Crier Tournament, Chester Mystery Plays, audiences with Robert Lindsay, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dan Snow, Cycle Sunday and various concerts rounded off what will become an annual festival. Preliminary figures show around £16m of economic benefit to the city from Chestival alone.
David Pickering, chairman of Chester City Management added: “Early indications suggest that retailers have enjoyed a 2% increase in trade over the five week period of the Chestival programme.
“We have instructed Manchester University to carry out an extensive economic impact assessment for all our key events and full details of this will be available shortly.
“However, if our straw polls of retailers and members of the hospitality industry are correct it would suggest that a 2% increase in trade is a direct result of this programme of events and this would equate to a figure of something in the region of £16m over the period of the Chestival programme.”
Other events have played their part in the city's boom.
The Chester Food and Drink Festival got the ball rolling at Easter with attendances in excess of 24,000 who have brought more than £1m worth of extra economic benefit to the city.
This was followed by the phenomenal success of Chester Races in May. Almost every meeting this year exceeded last year's figures and they are on course for a record year as the best performing racecourse in the country.
With an average attendance of more than 24,000, that accounts for an extra £10-12 million extra in to the economy.
Stephen Wundke, of Chester City Management, said: “Of course that is only part of the story, with anyone who has seen the crowds of families ticking off their check list of rhinos in the Rhino Mania trail will be well aware. Families are coming from all over the North West to visit Chester and see this phenomenon, which still has almost six weeks to run. Organisers are running survey work now to calculate the benefits of this major street art festival.”
Theatre in the Park was tested with challenging weather conditions but the beautiful surroundings of Grosvenor Park have introduced quality theatre to large audiences with well in excess of 4,000 tickets sold
Quicker, more frequent Virgin train services from London and Milton Keynes have enabled people to travel for other events like RHS Flower Show Tatton, Tatton Park Biennial, Cholmondeley Pageant of Power, Cheshire County Show,
Charles Stanley British Masters International Showjumping, The Halfords Tour Series cycle race and Bolesworth Castle Show Jumping Classic and Country Fair.
Visit Chester and Cheshire chief executive Chris Brown said: “ The challenge is to further develop the programme to raise its profile to national and international audiences to ultimately increase staying visitors.”