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Book festival has generated £50m for region

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Book festival has generated £50m for region

NEW figures show the massive impact of the Wigtown Book Festival on the region over the last 25 years.

It has generated over £50 million for the regional economy since its inception in 1999 and has become the most important festival for the Dumfries and Galloway economy.

Pre-covid it was sometimes generating more than £4 million a year.

As well as boosting tourism, it has created business, jobs and opportunities too, which were its central regeneration aims at the beginning.

Each year more than ten times the village’s population descend on the book lovers’ haven to take in the festival.

About half the visitors come from outwith the region and stay an average of three to four days.

It also brings a surge of shoppers to Wigtown’s 17 bookshops and related businesses.

Other benefits have been the career opportunities for young people in Wigtownshire – which is the most economically challenged part of Dumfries and Galloway.

The Wigtown Festival Company currently employs ten people, of which five are aged 30 or under.

Past young employees have included Catherine Jones who is now creative learning manager at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Mairi Adams who is the events co-ordinator at Turnberry, and Lilidh Kendrick, who went on to be assistant editor at Bloomsbury and now works at Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Crucially the festival has provided a platform for artists, craft makers, food and drink producers, accommodation providers and bookdealers as well as authors.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has provided essential support and funding for the festival from the start and this year has given £28,400 towards the event.

Mid Galloway and Wigtown West Councillor Jackie McCamon said: “The book festival has become one of the best loved events within Dumfries and Galloway. There are so many stimulating things to see and do, and it leaves a positive mark on all of its visitors.

“That it is has been directly responsible for more than £50m of additional economic expenditure in the regional economy since it started is phenomenal.”

Councillor Ian Blake added: “When the Wigtown community put its faith in books to regenerate the village, the book town could have failed, and left local people dispirited and economically isolated.

“Instead, it is Scotland’s literary success story, a fantastic example of community led economic revival that has created a beautiful place to visit and enjoy.”

  • This year’s Wigtown Book Festival takes place from September 22 to October 1.

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