by Priscila Brito
There are those who travel in search of history, of flavours or of adventure; and then there are those who travel to music festivals. Because of music-driven tourism, people get to know Belgium, not because of its beer, but because of Tomorrowland, one of the biggest electronic music festivals in the world; or it takes people to California, not necessarily because of the fame enjoyed by Hollywood, but because of the fame of Coachella, one of the most successful festivals in the world.
Those who travel to music festivals want to see their favourite artists in different settings; they want to experience being ‘immersed’ in events that last a week; and they want to understand the fascination that lies behind the great festivals – travelling to Coachella, Tomorrowland and others is a dream for many music fans, in the same way that a trip to Disneyland is for children. And, of course, they also want to get to know another country, its culture and its tourist spots.
An established market in Brazil and abroad
The figures of the tourist market behind this niche are robust. In a survey of the readers of Festivalando, a site that specializes in trips to music festivals, and of which I am an editor, 56% said that they intend travelling to at least one festival abroad this year. UK Music, an organization that represents the interests of the music industry in the UK, revealed in a report that 38% of the public at British festivals are foreigners. It’s as if one in every three visitors to Glastonbury (the world’s biggest and oldest festival) were from some other place in the world.
Tourism to festivals in Brazil is also relevant. A relevant proportion of the public at two of the biggest Brazilian festivals is formed by tourists: according to the Tourism Monitoring Centre of São Paulo, 30% of the public at Lollapalooza Brazil are tourists, and of this total, 54% have already travelled to São Paulo for other musical events. In Rock in Rio, 46% of the people are tourists. Brazil is also the second biggest market for festivals in Latin America after Mexico. The survey was carried out by consultancy company, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
And we cannot forget the reverse movement: the foreigners who come here. According to the organizers of Tomorrowland Brazil, in 2016 the festival received people from 60 different countries. It’s possible that not even the World Cup, an event that lasted a whole month, attracted people from so many different nationalities to Brazil as Tomorrowland, which lasted just four days.
The economy is grateful. According to research by PwC, in four years (2010-2014) revenue from this market increased by 24%, from US$ 165 million to US$ 205 million. Tourists spent some R$ 93 million just in Lollapalooza Brazil. Music festivals in England, the market with the biggest number of such events in the world, generated £3.7 billion in 2015, according to UK Music.
If we rely on what the projections indicate, these figures are going to keep on growing. In Brazil, Rock in Rio 2015 sold 3% more travel packages than in 2013, according to information from the festival itself. Globally also we are seeing progressive growth. In Italy there was a 6% bigger flow of tourists who visited the country just for shows or festivals in 2015, according to Assomusica, an association of live show producers in Italy. In the United Kingdom, UK Music points out that the number of tourists who visited the region attracted by festivals grew by 16% in 2015.
Travelling to festivals is a lifestyle, a new way of seeing the world and a market that is in full expansion. It brings new possibilities for tourists and new opportunities for agents and operators. This is a niche market that everybody needs to keep their eye on.
Priscila Brito is one of the authors of Festivalando (http://festivalando.com.br/), the first blog in Brazil dedicated to travel tips for music festivals and to musical tourism.
The opinions expressed in this text are the author’s opinion and do not necessarily reflect the position of WTM Latin America and ABBV as an entity.