An examination of the methodological issues
concerning the measurement of the
economic, social and environmental impacts
of festivals in Co. Donegal
Conor McTiernan MBS
Department of Hospitality and Tourism
School of Tourism, LyIT.
Presentation Overview
Background to festivals and events
Festival and event evaluation
Questionnaire design
Survey distribution
Sample size
Potential outcomes
Festivals and Events
• Falassi (1987, pp.2) defined festivals as “a sacred
or profane time of celebration, marked by special
observances” stressing the anthropological
dimension of many events around the world.
• Getz, defines festivals as “themed public
celebrations” (1997, pp.21).
Why embrace festivals and events?
• Economic injection and potential multiplier
• Increase and extend visitor numbers; during
festival and future visits.
• Catalyst for development; physically and
• Host community enhancement.
Growth and development of Festivals
and Events
• Phenomenal increase in number and thematic
diversity of festivals and events in Ireland.
• Attracts domestic and international visits to a
• Complements tourist markets requirements.
• Commercial and community/ urban and rural.
• Is there an over supply?
• Are they all viable?
• Festival organisation support and management.
Festival evaluation
• Could be considered a burgeoning field for
• Economic impact analysis a key focus.
• Economic evaluation: Jackson et al (2005)
 computable general equilibrium (CGE) models,
 input-output analysis,
 cost benefit analysis.
• Lack of International standard. Input-output
analysis ideal for transient, small regional festivals
• Crompton and McKay (1994):
 use of sales rather than income multipliers,
 misrepresentations of employment multipliers,
 inclusion of local residents
 failure to exclude ‘time-switchers’ and ‘casuals’.
• Economic impacts assessment fail to noneconomic benefits and costs.
Development of sustainable tourism
• Dwyer (2000) suggested that such events have
economic costs and benefits but also social costs
and benefits.
• Hede (2007) contended festivals and events
evaluation should be based on the triple bottom
line (TBL).
• Deery and Jago (2010) social impact theories:
 Social exchange
 Social representation
 Growth machine.
Environmental impacts
• Lack of academic literature.
• Juxtaposed with an increase in demand from
practitioners and attendees for guidelines and
• Kearins and Pavlovich’s 2002 case study of the
Sydney Olympic Games and Carlsen and Taylor’s
2003 study of the Manchester Commonwealth
• Australia’s Sustainable Tourism Cooperative
Research Centre’s (STCRC).
• Wood’s 2005 measurement of social and
economic impacts of local authority events
suggests development of six questionnaires;
1. Pre event host attitudinal survey,
2. Festival attendees survey,
3. Host community non-attendees survey,
4. Post event local business survey,
5. Post event sponsor and community group
6. Post event host attitudinal survey.
• Jackson et al (2005) analysed the STCRC’s Festival
DIY kit - uses standard questionnaires and this
counteracts the contention that there is a lack of
a standardised set of criteria for evaluating the
economic impact of a festival.
Questionnaire design
• The objectives of the surveys:
1. Gather data which can be combined with other
information to evaluate the festival or events
net economic gain to the host community,
2. Assess the effect, if any, on the host
communities attitude to the festival,
3. Measure the environmental impact of the
festival on the host and regional communities.
Questionnaire design
• Definition of Local/ host/ resident – resides
within 10km of venue if rural and 5km if urban.
• Income rather than sales multiplier calculated by
assessing percentage of income and expenditure
at local level.
• Environmental impacts - collection of data on
travel and transport by type and distance,
accommodation usage by type and duration and
refuse disposal by type and volume. A carbon and
water footprint can be calculated using up to date
national statistics provided by the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA).
Questionnaire design
• Host community residents - same questionnaire
is used so that any changes in perceptions can
• Use of Likert scale as supported by Fredline and
Faulkner (2000) and Deery and Jago (2010).
• Three point Likert.
• Wright (2005) - previous decade had witnessed a
‘tremendous increase in internet use and computermediated communication’. Supports on-line surveys.
• Advantages: Reach participants directly, automated
data collection, reduction financial and time costs (ibid,
2005) completed at the convenience of the respondent
(Sax, Gilmartin and Bryant, 2003).
• Disadvantages: uncertainty over the validity of the data
and sampling issues (Wright, 2005), accessing the
appropriate population (Hudson and Bruckman, 2004)
and the challenge of designing, implementing and
evaluating an online survey.
Sample size
• Lack of international standard.
• Wood’s Blackburn study (2005) 100% local
business for economic impacts and 150
structured telephone interviews (Population predefined) for social impacts.
• Deery and Jago (2010) Australian Open Tennis
(600,000 patrons) 197 randomly selected
participants for structured telephone interviews.
• Maughan and Bianchini (2004) 4704 responses
from 250,000 audience members at eleven
festivals in the English East Midlands region 1.9% sample size.
Potential findings and outcomes
• Benefits to stakeholders – small number of local
• Residents perceptions – influenced by timing,
congestion, anti-social behaviour etc.
• Environmental impacts – greater than expected
• Survey design and distribution – nature of data and online distribution.
• Encourage adoption of international best practice and
encourage stakeholders to consider impacts of festivals
and events.
• Potential to broaden study to include range of events,
assess impacts of marketing, assess pre and post event
perceptions of attendees.

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