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Returning events provide boost to Shropshire company, says business leader

Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan
Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan
Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan

Shropshire Chamber chief executive Richard Sheehan said the events are important in not only providing revenue, but also attract thousands of visitors from outside the area.

The Covid pandemic wreaked havoc on the events industry for two years, but this year events in the county are back in full swing.

Shropshire usually hosts a range of major events each year, including the Shropshire County Show, Shrewsbury Flower Show, music concerts as well festivals.

Just weeks after 80s legends Tears for Fears performed a concert at the QEII Arena in Telford Town Park, pop royalty Madness will be performing an outdoor gig in the Quarry Park in Shrewsbury on Friday, July 15.

Mr Sheehan said: “The events industry feeds heavily into the tourism, leisure and hospitality industry which has been hard hit by Covid. These events help market the area. They are enjoyed by people living locally as well as bring people in from outside.

“In the short-term they raise revenue, but they also raise awareness of the beautiful destinations we have got in the county and make people want to come back and visit.

“The diverse events on offer in such a rural county is fantastic.

“We’re in a situation where we recognise our agricultural roots and that will bring people in from that sector. But with events such as the concerts and flower show, they bring a much diverse audience and attract people from further afield who will stay in hotels and spend money in bars and restaurants.

“All these events should continue to be welcomed and supported.”

Shropshire Festivals organises several major events in the county annually, including Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shropshire Oktoberfest, Shropshire Kids Festivals, Shropshire Tasty Trail and Shropshire Party at the Quarry Park, collectively attracting over 90,000 visitors annually.

It has also been enlisted to organise the Queen’s Baton Relay family festival in the Quarry on Monday afternoon and Oakengates Carnival in September.

Owner and creative director, Beth Heath, said: “Local events are incredibly important, not just for our economy, but for strengthening community cohesion. Since the moment Boris announced the first lockdown, we have realised how much we took live events for granted – being immersed in community spirit, supporting local businesses, and having fun with our loved ones with shared experiences.

“It has been brilliant to bring back all of our major events this year, plus we’ve had a new demand for event consultancy with corporate clients – everyone wants to enjoy in person parties again, which is fantastic.

“Away from the big boys like Glastonbury, smaller events and festivals like ours are facing a huge challenge. All of our costs are going up but our customers are battling a cost-of-living crisis. Event organisers can’t put on events which don’t break even, let alone make a profit, but we’re loathed to pass on cost increases to customers who are feeling the strain too. It’s going to make many events become unviable, which is heart-breaking.

“Our festivals are a huge boost to the local tourism sector, with people travelling from outside the county, and even the country to visit us. Local restaurants and hotels get booked out whilst our events are on.

“We give space at our festivals for other events to market themselves, helping to boost visitor return visits.

“We believe our events have a circular economy, they attract local people, who support the local businesses we showcase, who create jobs and opportunities in our local area, and those businesses make our events better. I can’t stress enough how important it is to support local events in the area.”