Cultural and sports events boost Borders economy by £6m a year, report reveals

The Tour of Britain arriving in Kelso.
The Tour of Britain arriving in Kelso.

The Borders’ cultural and sporting celebrations generate £6m a year for the region’s economy, it has been revealed.

A report detailing the scale of the economic contribution yielded by tournaments and festivals across the region this year was presented to Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee this week.

The biggest earner was the Borders Book Festival in Melrose, estimated to have generated almost £2.3m.

Not far behind it was the Scottish Borders Heritage Festival with an economic impact of £1.45m.

Other events also yieldiing windfalls for the region’s economy included Melrose’s long-running rugby sevens tournament, first held in 1883, attracting 10,000 sports fans and generating £430,000, and the newer TweedLove Bike Festival for cycling enthusiasts, contributing £750,00.

Two other cycling events, the Tour of Britain stage finish in Kelso and the Tour o’ the Borders yielded expenditure of £280,000 and £524,500 respectively.

The arrival of the Borders Railway in 2015 has been credited with helping to increase attendances at events, particularly at the Melrose Sevens and the Borders Book Festival.

Among the proposals for the future to boost the money-making potential of the £350m Edinburgh-Tweedbank line is a race-the-train cycling event suggested for 2018 or, more likely, 2019.

A report to the committee by chief economic development officer Bryan McGrath and events officer Jane Warcup said: “The council successfully facilitates and supports the delivery of a wide range of regional, national and international events.

“This co-ordinated and targeted approach to promoting events in the Scottish Borders has had a significant impact on the economy, generating an estimated economic impact of almost £6m in 2017.

“These events raise the profile and enhance the reputation of the Scottish Borders, and deliver social and community benefits.”

Further events highlighted in the report include the Brick and Steel County Rally at Jedburgh, broadcast on television, and Scotland’s National Beef Event at Earlston, attended by more than 3,000 people, 75% of them from outside the Borders.

The report added: “Lack of support to local events potentially risks the successful delivery of events and reduces economic impact.

“Competition from other regions in the UK, as well as abroad, means the public and private sector need to work effectively together to ensure the Scottish Borders is providing the best possible support package for events.”