A recently published report by Tourism South East (TSE) has concluded that last years Jane Austen 200 commemorations contributed £21 million to Hampshires economy with more than a million extra visitors being attracted to the county to follow in the authors footsteps.
2017 marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austens death, and Hampshire Cultural Trust
took the lead in celebrating the authors life and work. In collaboration with Jane Austens House Museum and many other partners including Winchester Cathedral, Chawton House and Visit Hampshire, a number of exhibitions, events, performances and talks took place throughout the year.
A major highlight of the commemoration was The Mysterious Miss Austen, an exhibition at the Gallery in Winchesters Discovery Centre which gave visitors a unique opportunity to view six portraits of the author under one roof for the very first and probably only time. A lasting legacy of the years events came in the form of the worlds first life-size, bronze statue of the author which has become a major visitor attraction in Basingstoke, the borough of Austens birth.
The independent report, which was commissioned by Visit Hampshire and HCT, commented that the Austen-inspired events and activities had a clear positive effect on visitor numbers at various visitor attractions across Hampshire
. Not only that, the commemorations also boosted the local tourism and hospitality sectors, with significant numbers of visitors choosing to stay in local hotels.
The report cites that Chawton House trebled its visitor figures between March October 2017, and the City Space gallery in Winchester Discovery Centre (also inaugural venue of The Mysterious Miss Austen) enjoyed an almost 75% increase in visitors during June 2017.
These increases are thanks to the events and activities related to the Jane Austen bicentenary and the accompanying global media coverage.
Overall, the TSE report estimated that an additional 1,062,000 visitors were attracted to Hampshire thanks to Jane Austen 200. Looking at the direct economic impact of the celebrations, the TSE report said: An additional net of 265,500 visitors were attracted to Hampshire specifically because of the Jane Austen 200 events and activities in the summer of 2017. This resulted in an additional 69,600 bed nights in Hampshire, and an additional direct spend of £13,738,000.
It also concluded that new jobs and income were generated by Jane Austen 200, which in turn had a positive effect on the local goods and services industries, adding an extra £7,143,900 to Hampshire firms coffers.
In short, the report declares: We therefore estimate that the total economic impact of the Jane Austen 200 celebrations was £20,882,000.
Janet Owen, Chief Executive Officer of Hampshire Cultural Trust said: The TSE report is testimony to Janes incredible legacy and how our countys partners, museums and attractions embraced Jane Austen 200 to create a wealth of events and exhibitions that attracted huge numbers of visitors.