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Britain's music heritage income to double: study

LONDON, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Music tourism in Britain earns the country over 3.7 billion U.S. dollars, a study revealed Saturday.

But that figure could almost double to 6.75 billion dollars if English cities cash in on their own big-name pop groups in the way Liverpool celebrates its most famous foursome, the Beatles, said UK Music, a campaigning and lobbying group for the music industry.

In a major study, 'Imagine, the value of music tourism in the UK', the group said the Beatles' tourism alone in Liverpool earns the city almost over 70 million pounds (120 million dollars) a year.

Jo Dipple, CEO of UK MUSIC, said 'Beatlemania' has kept Liverpool at the top of music destinations for tourists.

"Millions have made pop pilgrimages for 50 years to see the birth place of Macca or where Ringo went to school. In the report we argue that the UK has more to offer than just the Beatles," said Dipple.

"Music heritage has created a bed for businesses to take root in the city and make Liverpool top of the list for tourists," said Dipple.

"But the story shouldn't end there. Other cities across the UK have strong music histories and could create a new economy by exploiting their music heritage," added Dipple.

UK Music said the government has set an ambitious target to increase the number of tourists heading to Britain from the current 31.5 million a year to 40 million a year by 2020, boosting the nation's economy by around 54 billion dollars a year.

The report said the 120 million dollars a year earned in Liverpool as a direct result of Beatles tourism would equate to 6.75 billion dollars if the rest of Britain performed as well as Liverpool does on its music heritage tourism.

Even Liverpool was slow to catch on to the opportunities of branding itself as a 'music city', said UK Music, but today music and the Beatles has become the cornerstone of its tourism strategy.

Although many other big-name pop stars emerged from Liverpool, the Beatles and their ongoing worldwide popularity ensure Liverpool is a place of musical pilgrimage. The largest attraction in the city, The Beatles Story, housed in a 19th century warehouse complex, now attracts 260,000 visitors a year - 70 percent of them from overseas.

It adds a study by the government-backed tourism agency Visit Britain reveals 11 percent of visitors cited a 'Beatles tour' in Liverpool as one of their aspirational cultural activities on a visit to Britain.

Pam Wilsher, Liverpool's head of Visitor Economy Development, said: "When I first came to Liverpool in the 1980s I thought the rise of Beatles-related tourism might be a fad, that it might last 10 years at the most. I am delighted to have been proved wrong, and that we continue to see young people - born years after Beatlemania - from all around the world, from places like China, Brazil, Australia and Russia -visiting the city purely to retrace the footsteps of John, Paul, George and Ringo."

Bruce Cherry, co-ordinator of Britain Rocks, a consortium of heritage sites and attractions in Britain, said Visit Britain lists music one of the seven pillars of Britain's tourism industry. He has called for a dedicated national resource to better co-ordinate and create new opportunities for the sector.

That view is echoed in the recommendations in the report from UK Music. It called on civic leaders in towns and cities across the country to build music heritage into their strategies.

Dipple concluded: "Our recommendations aim to help local and central government provide a framework for a vibrant music destination economy. We want to inspire local authorities to make the most of the music heritage on their doorstep to attract more visitors."

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