Paisley businesses have hailed a multi-million economic boost thanks to major events this winter.
A new economic impact study has found that three Renfrewshire Council events – Paisley’s Christmas Lights Switch-On; the Halloween Festival and The Spree – delivered a combined £3.5million for the local economy.
Record numbers flocked to the town for each event, as 72,000 people enjoyed the activities on offer.
More than 27,000 people packed the Paisley streets for the Christmas Lights Switch-On as Santa and his reindeer were joined by Princesses of Pop and X-Factor stars The Cutkelvins.
The family fun day delivered a £1.07million economic boost – more than double the 2017 tally – while visitor spend soared to £406,000.
Paisley Halloween Festival was supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
It brought in almost £2million and achieved a 300% increase in visitor spend as 34,000 people flocked to experience the town’s dark and deathly witch history.
And the seventh year of The Spree saw the highest ticket sales yet, as almost 11,000 people enjoyed the 87 shows on offer right across Renfrewshire, raising £434,700.
Satisfaction levels soared at all the events and attendance surveys also showed they reached new audiences from across Scotland and further afield.
The Winter bonanza adds to the £1.25million boost from major events in the spring and summer – with more than 70,000 people coming to April’s Paisley Food and Drink Festival, May’s British Pipe Band Championships and Sma’ Shot & Weave festival in July.
Revellers in the town have also been enjoying Paisley First’s WinterFest which features an outdoor ice rink, a Big Wheel and a free festive Nutcracker Trail.
Paisley restaurateur Colette Cardosi said: “The way people shop and socialise has changed and we have to offer something different, an experience, to attract visitors to the town. Recent events organised by Renfrewshire Council and Paisley First have shown that people are happy to visit Paisley town centre when there are events on. Whether it’s one day events like Sma’ Shot and Halloween or longer events like Jurassic Bricks and Paisley First WinterFest, it’s a great opportunity to raise awareness of the diverse range of businesses within the town to different audiences.”
Paisley-based multimedia production company Brick Lane Media was commissioned to capture the events on camera, with three young Renfrewshire filmmakers producing the final videos.
Director Alan McEwan said: “Being part of the council events has given us opportunities to up-scale our filming operations and grow our business model and at the same time has seen young filmmakers from Renfrewshire gain experience and earn an income. Without these opportunities we would not have seen the positive growth we’ve had this year.”
Paisley Abbey provided the perfect backdrop for Halloween and has hosted a range of family activities throughout the winter events.
Reverend Alan Birss said: “We’ve been very happy to support Paisley’s winter events programme, which have brought many people into the Abbey for a whole range of activities and our volunteers have been able to welcome them and share their enthusiasm for this wonderful place.
“The stalls, the shop, the café and donations made by visitors at these events all help raise the funds needed to keep the doors open every day of the year both as a place of worship and prayer and as a visitor attraction and the income from these events is an important part of our annual revenue generation.”
Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Our winter events programme is going from strength to strength and these numbers underline the huge impact they are having with more people attending and spending more than ever before, which puts millions into the local economy and into the pockets of local businesses.
“It was also great to see these winter events reaching new audiences including many people from across Scotland and the rest of the UK, which is testament to the high quality of these events and the fantastic programme on offer having a wide appeal.
“Alongside the numbers, to see satisfaction levels hit the highest levels yet and for the first year of Spree for All so well received across Renfrewshire’s towns and villages gives us many reasons to be cheerful. We are working hard on another brilliant programme of events in 2019 which will build upon this and further extend support to events across our communities.”