Aberdeen’s flagship Christmas village attraction brought in more than £1.2 million for the city- but is still struggling to match the impact it enjoyed in its previous location.
In 2017, the event expanded and was moved from Union Terrace to Broad Street, and fresh figures now reveal the success of the 2018 event.
A report to councillors on today’s commissioning committee reveals that, after costs, the most recent offering brought in around £1.2 million, compared to just £500,000 in 2017.
That is, however, still shy of 2016’s performance, when a £1.7 million financial impact was recorded.
Nonetheless, city leaders believe the improvement on 2017 indicates that the event has found its place on Broad Street.
And they are hopeful it will now grow and develop.
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In January, footfall figures revealed 631,000 people visited the attraction between November 22 and December 31 – 200,000 more than the previous year.
According to surveys of visitors, the majority of those who took advantage of the Christmas village were from the city itself or from Aberdeenshire.
There has, however, been scepticism over how the figures are counted, with some concerns people simply passing through were recorded as visitors.
According to the latest results, people enjoyed the event, with 78% of those surveyed rating it “good or excellent” compared with 74% the previous year and just 68% in 2016.
Adrian Watson, who is the chief executive of city centre business body Aberdeen Inspire and jointly puts on the annual attraction with the council and Cadonas, will be quizzed by today’s committee.
Council culture spokeswoman Marie Boulton said the event was “building a reputation” and there would be more local produce available this year.
She said: “People generally don’t like change to begin with but I think people are now viewing Broad Street and Castlegate as the event spaces for the city.
“What the report doesn’t highlight is the previous hassle that the council went through when the village was on Union Terrace.
“There were a lot of complaints from drivers and local residents then and now we barely have any.
“We are now building a reputation for the event.
“This year people enjoyed the local produce inside the Marischal College quad area and this is something that we are looking to expand in coming years.”
SNP Group Leader, councillor Stephen Flynn, however, said he remains to be convinced of the event’s long-term merits.
“Although the Christmas Village has improved I think it’s safe to say that it was a very low bar to begin with,” he said.
“Going forward, we need to see a serious commitment from the administration to supporting local businesses and giving them a real opportunity to benefit from the village.”