In the run-up to Purple Flag Week (24-30 September), the national tourist Board, VisitEngland, together with the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) have issued guidelines in a publication called ‘The Evening & Night Time Economy’ for the tourism industry to make the most of the night time economy and grow tourism in towns and cities.
The night time economy is worth around £66bn to the UK economy, accounting for nearly a third of the town and city centre turnover. Purple Flag Week is the new annual UK-wide campaign to promote town and city centres at night through ATCM’s accredited Purple Flag centres. The event intends to capture resident, visitor and businesses’ imaginations, and encourage people to do something different with their evenings. VisitEngland research from the 2011 Great Britain Day Visits Survey shows that out of 1.5bn day visits, nearly 300million were either mainly for a meal out or going on a night out, representing 21% of the £52bn spent in the UK on day visits. Not surprisingly a range of shopping and good quality food, drink and dining were very important to the satisfaction of visitors to towns and cities in this country.
Purple Flag hosted by the Association of Town Centre Management and launched in 20010, is the national accreditation scheme recognising excellence in the management of town and city centres ‘after dark’. The aim of the scheme is to raise the standard and broaden the appeal of towns and city centres at night, providing recognition for businesses and organisations which inspire visitors to enjoy towns and cities specifically between the hours of 6pm – 6am by the development and promotion of excellent late night shopping, dining, drinking, and cultural experiences. Since the launch of Purple Flag, 31 centres have been awarded the Purple Flag accreditation, with many destinations showing great results. Liverpool launched Light Night in 2011, attracting 17,500 visitors with an economic impact of £250,000 . Through a trial of extended opening hours, promotions,festivals and arts and culture activities, NewcastleGateshead increased revenue by £53m over a 6 month period. James Berresford, VisitEngland’s Chief Executive said: “Now is the time to seize the opportunity given to us by hosting one of the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. This summer has whetted the country’s appetite to enjoy a vast array of sporting and cultural events supported by later opening hours by shops, bars and restaurants. The night time economy offers us a huge opportunity to grow tourism in England and make our cities and towns some of the of the most exciting in the world.”
Philip Kolvin QC, Chairman of the Purple Flag Board commented: “Purple Flag Week is a fantastic way to showcase the best that our towns and cities have to offer and the important role that the evening economy plays in our local communities. Thirty-one towns and cities across the country have already been awarded a Purple Flag accreditation and we hope that the events taking place up and down the land will encourage many other centres to get involved. With the support of Government, the police, local businesses and our sponsors Diageo Great Britain, Purple Flag is effectively challenging the negative perceptions of our urban areas at night time and is helping us all to celebrate the quality, diversity and vibrancy on offer in our towns and cities.”