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1.2m million visitors to Gromit sculptures unleash £120m spend for Bristol economy

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Nearly 1.2 million people are estimated to have visited the Gromit Unleashed trail and exhibition this year, contributing a massive £120 million to the Bristol economy.

Visitor research by the project organisers reveals that 1.18 million people visited the trail and exhibition during the summer and early autumn, nearly 900,000 of which visited specifically to see the Gromit sculptures.

The total direct impact of the Gromit Unleashed project is more than £77 million, which includes money spent on paid accommodation as well as wider spending in the city including travel, gifts and refreshments. The wider knock-on impact of this injection of public spending is believed to have given Bristol a staggering £123 million boost to its economy.

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Just over half of the visitors were from Bristol (56%), with 42% coming from around the UK and the remaining 2% from overseas, in particular North America, Europe and Australia.

16.8% of visitors stayed overnight as part of their Gromit Unleashed trip, with 11.8% staying in paid accommodation for an average of two nights and spending over £200 on their accommodation.

The project also unleashed a huge vote of confidence in Bristol with 91% of visitors saying they would recommend a visit to the city to friends and family as a direct result and 91% saying the trail meant they had visited parts of the city they had not seen before.

Gromit Unleashed organisers Aardman, Bristol Children’s Hospital charity, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal and Wild in Art say the figures reveal only part of the impact of the project on the city.

Nicola Masters, director of Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal said: “Our aim has always been to bring something of real value to the city, as well as raising funds for Bristol Children’s Hospital but we never anticipated this level of impact. The figures are astonishing but the economic impact is only part of the equation as the project has not only helped bring people to visit this wonderful city, but got Bristol people out to explore parts of the city they have never seen before.”

David Sproxton, chairman of Aardman said: “Gromit Unleashed is the most successful project we’ve ever done beyond what we’re usually associated with and we’ve all been bowled over by the way that people from far and wide have responded to the sculptures and flocked into the city.”

Commenting on the economic impact figures, George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said: “The Gromits had a tremendous impact on Bristol, not only in terms of the money raised for a good cause but in the wider sense of boosting our economy and attracting visitors.  They’re a great example of the way in which the city’s creative and cultural offerings have a really positive effect on Bristol’s growing reputation for doing things differently.  In doing this, the city is staking its claim as a major attraction for visitors from all over the world, showing everyone a little bit of the spirit which makes Bristol so special.”

John Hirst, chief executive, Destination Bristol, said: “We are extremely pleased that we were in a position to support the project through the Government’s Regional Growth fund. The funding was part of a wider initiative by VisitEngland to encourage people to holiday at home this summer, and with 98% of ‘Gromiters’ coming from within the UK that’s clearly been achieved. Gromit Unleashed has helped shine a light on Bristol as a hub for culture, tourism and creativity and showcase its strengths in front of an international audience – thank you Gromit!”

David Sproxton adds: “We keep being asked ‘what’s next’ and its certainly going to be a challenge to top this but the project partners are keen to see if we can scale up the idea with Shaun the Sheep in 2015 and roll it out nationally – or even internationally.

“We’re very much at an exploratory stage but with 2015 being the Chinese Year of the Sheep, coupled with the charity fundraising potential and the release of our new movie, it seems like the perfect time. Where Gromit leads, sheep tend to follow!”

Further details about project 2015 will be revealed in due course and any enquiries should be emailed to info@grandappeal.org.uk

Gromit Unleashed is a public arts trail, exhibition and auction which took Bristol by storm this year. Although the full impact of the fundraising will not be realised for some weeks, the auction last week raised £2.35m.

The auction proceeds will go towards the Grand Appeal’s campaign to support the expansion of the Bristol Children’s Hospital, one of the leading multi-disciplinary children’s hospitals in the UK.

The Grand Appeal has pledged to raise an initial £3.5 million for state-of-the-art equipment, including an intraoperative MRI scanner, family facilities and child-friendly artwork to enhance the £31 million investment by the NHS.

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal has already raised over £22 million for Bristol Children’s Hospital, one of only a few specialist children’s hospitals in the UK providing life-saving surgery, care and treatment to children on a local, national and international scale.

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