The UK is in talks to potentially host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest after the organisers concluded next year’s event cannot be held in the winning country, Ukraine, due to the ongoing war with Russia.
The UK performer Sam Ryder came second in May’s Eurovision, achieving the country’s best result in over two decades.
How many times has the UK hosted Eurovision?
It is traditional for the winning country to host the next year’s contest, but the UK has in fact hosted eight times, despite only winning five times. This is due to multiple occasions of the UK stepping in to host on behalf of another country due to expense, political issues, or other factors, including hosting for Luxembourg in 1974 and Monaco in 1972.
When was the last time the UK hosted Eurovision?
The UK last hosted Eurovision in 1998 after its win in Dublin the previous year with Katrina and The Waves. The finals took place at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena. If the UK does host once more in 2023, it's unclear whether the event would take place in Birmingham again, in London, or in another city altogether.
What impact does hosting Eurovision have on tourism?
The contest draws in close to 200 million viewers every year, and tens of thousands of tourists travel to watch the spectacle in person, making the contest a strong opportunity for tourism.
Although the numbers are hard to track, estimates by national tourism boards find that the host city often sees over 30,000 tourist visitors during the weeks around Eurovision. When Kyiv hosted in 2018, 20,000 international tourists travelled to the Ukrainian capital, and a further 40,000 Ukrainian citizens came from other parts of the country.
This can be a huge potential boon for the local economy, not just at the event itself, but for hotels, restaurants and bars city-wide. In 2016, Stockholm spent around €9m on the event, but tourism brought an estimated 263 million SEK (about £22m at the time) on top of ticket sales.
Moreover, Stockholm’s analysis found that this revenue corresponded to the equivalent of over 230 FTE annual jobs across the city.
But these numbers aren’t totally transparent: in fact, cities in the past have been accused of inflating the economic benefits of the event, as the cost can be controversial. The event can be incredibly expensive: it’s estimated that Azerbaijan spent as much as €100m on their event in 2012 including building an entirely new arena.
But that spending doesn’t necessarily translate to tourism revenue, and even when it does, it may not be a long-lasting boost to the economy. An OECD study found that being a Eurovision host city doesn’t tend to lead to long-term infrastructure investment, like being an Olympic host or a European City of Culture might. And although the event does provide an opportunity for cities to increase their profile on the global stage, the impact of this, in the long run, is highly variable.