The first-ever economic impact assessment of the Royal Norfolk Show reveals the event brought £20m into the county last summer – including a £14.3m boost for Norwich firms.

Eastern Daily Press: The 2018 Royal Norfolk Show added £20m to the county's economy, says a UEA report. Picture: ANTONY KELLYThe 2018 Royal Norfolk Show added £20m to the county's economy, says a UEA report. Picture: ANTONY KELLY (Image: Archant Norfolk 2018)

An independent study by the School of Economics at the University of East Anglia has calculated the extra value added to the local economy by people visiting the annual summer event from outside the county, and spending their money with our shops, restaurants, hotels and transport businesses.

But the report's author, UEA economics lecturer Dr Bahar Ghezelayagh, says the major economic influence of the event could be expanded even further in future years.

To maximise the benefit for the "host economy", she suggests a strategy of encouraging more on-site concessions and trade stands from within Norfolk, and to expand the advertising radius of the show to attract a bigger audience from other regions and countries such as the Netherlands.

The show's organisers, the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), said the wider financial knock-on effects of the two-day event - already ten times the estimated £2m spent inside the showground itself - illustrates the show's national agricultural reputation, as well as its enduring regional appeal.

Eastern Daily Press: Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association chief executive Greg Smith. Photo: Steve AdamsRoyal Norfolk Agricultural Association chief executive Greg Smith. Photo: Steve Adams

RNAA chief executive Greg Smith said: "We have always been aware that the Royal Norfolk Show had a major impact on the county's wider economy, but were surprised by the findings of the work.

"It demonstrates what an important part the show plays in bringing the county together, whether for business or for pleasure. And, for me, this is the tip of the iceberg - the show delivers so much more both on the day and in unquantifiable, tangible and intangible impact for businesses in the region and beyond.

"The key to continuing this success lies in us being able to encourage everyone to join in, whether as an exhibitor or a visitor, as if we can ensure we offer something for all our audiences we can create a fantastic and enjoyable event which is not only a great day out, but plays a key role in the economic prosperity of the region."

He added: "I would think it would be hard to find any other two-day event that is consistently delivering for the benefit of the county - and has done over many, many decades."

Eastern Daily Press: Scenes from the grand cattle parade at the 2018 Royal Norfolk Show. Picture: ANTONY KELLYScenes from the grand cattle parade at the 2018 Royal Norfolk Show. Picture: ANTONY KELLY (Image: Archant Norfolk 2018)

READ MORE: Headline attractions revealed for 2019 Royal Norfolk ShowOf last year's 84,830 visitors, the study excludes Norfolk residents - on the assumption that their money would have been spent in the county anyway if the show had not taken place - and cash taken by trade stands from outside Norfolk is discounted as "leakage" from the local economy.

As the goal of the study was to measure the wider economic benefits, the RNAA's revenue from ticket sales is also excluded.

An extra overnight stayer from outside the county is estimated to be worth £519.23, while a day-trip showgoer could be worth £335.66 to the Norfolk economy.

Dr Ghezelayagh said she hopes the RNAA can use the report's findings to optimise the local economic impact of the Royal Norfolk Show.

Eastern Daily Press: Royal Norfolk Show, 2018. Showjumping in the main ring.Picture: ANTONY KELLYRoyal Norfolk Show, 2018. Showjumping in the main ring.Picture: ANTONY KELLY (Image: Archant Norfolk 2018)

"There are different ways of looking at it, but the core definition of economic impact is looking at extra money from people outside the host economy being spent at local businesses," she said.

"There are so many reports that over-estimate how much impact an event has on an economy, but I have been very strict not to over-estimate anything.

"£20m is big number, but the Royal Norfolk Show could have an even bigger impact to the local economy if they increased advertising outside the region. For example, why couldn't it be advertised to people in Amsterdam to say they can have a discount on their ferry tickets and come to the show?"

Nova Fairbank, head of policy, governance and public affairs at the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said beyond the calculated economic impact, the show had many immeasurable benefits, such as providing a platform for networking and meeting potential clients, and raising the collective profile of Norfolk's business community.

"The huge value of the Royal Norfolk Show is very much around raising the profile of the county, and bringing its businesses and communities together," she said.

"We all know that this is a great place to live and work and that we have a dynamic and innovative business community, but that is perhaps not as apparent to those outside the county.

"Every business is built on relationships, and it is impossible to measure these relationships, but the show is an opportunity for every single one of us to show the rest of the world what we can do."


The economic impact report was the result of almost five months of work by Dr Bahar Ghezelayagh and six students hired as interns for the UEA's School of Economics.

It involved a detailed review of economic data relating to other local and national events, as well as paper surveys taken at the show and circulated digitally to spectators and exhibitors afterwards to assess where visitors had come from, and where they were spending their money.

Dr Ghezelayagh said the project had mutual benefits.

"Our collaboration with the RNAA has been a great experience, not only for me but also for the students that worked for us on this project," she said. "These are Sam Horsfield, Ali Danesh, Jacob Rumley, Natalia Mendonca, Jian Lu, Uzochukwu Ugochukwuwas.

"We had such a diverse group of students, each one with a different background, and from a different region and in total from four different countries.

"This project has become such a memorable experience for our students because they could see how we use economics in a real-life project. It has been a pleasure to work with the RNAA on this project, as we could all see the valuable results when universities and academics work side-by-side with local businesses."

- This year's Royal Norfolk Show takes place on June 26 and 27 at the showground in Costessey. For more details see the Royal Norfolk Show website.