Local festivals boost economy by €300m

Local festivals generated €300m for the Irish economy this year, it emerged today.

Local festivals generated €300m for the Irish economy this year, it emerged today.

However it is becoming increasing difficult to recruit volunteers to work at the events, an all-island umbrella body said today.

The issue will be discussed at the annual conference of the Association of Irish Festival Events (Aoife) in Co Galway tomorrow.

Aoife chief executive Colm Croffy said: "The costs of the festivals and events season would rise by 60% if it were not for the free time given by the 45,000 volunteers.

"If you had to pay a salary to every person at every barrier, the events would not be able to survive and cover their expenses."

Aoife oversees a total of 401 festivals which attracted eight million people in 2007.

The most popular events are the St Patrick's Festival, the Wexford Opera Festival, the Rose of Tralee, Kilkenny Arts Festival and the Galway Arts Festival.

This year's 14th annual conference, which will be addressed by Minister for Community Affairs Eamon O'Cuiv, will also focus on cultural tourism, sponsorship and marketing.

In 2007, a total of €20m was invested in the festivals sector by the Government and local authorities.

Mr Croffy added: "The state gets about 400% return for the funding it puts in."

The festivals cost in the region of €120m to produce and run and about 70 cent in every euro goes directly into the local community.

Tomorrow's conference in Ballinasloe will be attended by international delegates from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Harrogate International Festival, Tennessee Arts Festival, the Guggenheim in Bonn, the Reykjavik Arts Festival and Finland Festivals.

Irish representatives will also be present from the National Tourism Development Authority, the Arts Council, Macnas and local authority officials.

Aoife - an all-island network organisation that brings together organisers of festivals and events in Ireland - has seen the number of members grow from 245 in 2003 to 401 in 2007.

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