Belfast Telegraph

Major events to bring in tens of millions for the economy

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland's economy will receive a boost this week as key events celebrating agriculture, motorbikes and regal nuptials draw hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Balmoral Show, which takes place from Wednesday to Saturday, and motorcycling festival the North West 200 - which starts today with a practice race - are tipped to attract around 250,000 people in total.

An economic impact study commissioned by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council found last year's NW 200 had generated around £9.8m for the economy from visitors to the Portrush area.

And director Fergus MacKay said he expected this year's event to bring in more than £10m. "That economic impact does not cover the arrival of so many of the other people involved in the event, like marshals and security, as well as the competitors themselves. We'd say that their involvement generates an additional £2m."

And retailers in the grocery sector are also expected to receive a lift from the royal wedding on Saturday as fans of the royals buy festive food and drink to coincide with their viewing of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Economist Esmond Birnie of the Northern Ireland economic policy centre at Ulster University said the royal wedding could add up to £40m to the economy here, based on the impact of his brother William's wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011, and the Queen's Diamond and Golden jubilees.

But he added: "What is different this time is that there is no extra Bank Holiday and the wedding is on a Saturday.

"That means that whereas in the previous royal events there was probably a net negative impact on the economy (lost output through time off work outweighed all the types of additional spending).

"And if each attendee at the NW 200 and Balmoral Show spent around £50 each, that could result in a spend of £12.5m - though the event could be simply shifting spending which could go elsewhere in Northern Ireland."

And he added that economic output could be reduced if Northern Ireland people take time off work to attend Balmoral Show on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, or any of the NW 200's main events today, Thursday and Saturday.

"Perhaps, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that people are enjoying themselves."

Belfast Telegraph

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