Nearly 1.2 million visitors to Bristol’s Gromit Unleashed trail and exhibition this year have boosted the local economy by £120 million.
Visitor research by the project organisers reveals that 1.18 million people visited the trail during the summer and early autumn, of which nearly 900,000 visited specifically to see the city’s Gromit sculptures.
The total direct impact of the Gromit Unleashed project is £77 million, including money spent on overnight accommodation, travel, gifts and refreshments.
However, Gromit Unleashed organisers, Aardman, Bristol Children’s Hospital charity, Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal and Wild in Art suggest the figures reveal only part of the impact the project has made on the city.
Nicola Masters, director of Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, said: "Our aim has always been to bring something of real value to the city, as well as raising funds for Bristol Children’s Hospital but we never anticipated this level of impact.
"The figures are astonishing but the economic impact is only part of the equation as the project has not only helped bring people to visit this wonderful city, but got Bristol people out to explore parts of the city they have never seen before."
David Sproxton, chairman of Aardman, added: "Gromit Unleashed is the most successful project we’ve ever done beyond what we’re usually associated with and we’ve all been bowled over by the way that people from far and wide have responded to the sculptures and flocked into the city."
On the economic impact the event made on the city, George Ferguson, mayor of Bristol, said: "The Gromits had a tremendous impact on Bristol, not only in terms of the money raised for a good cause, but in the wider sense of boosting our economy and attracting visitors.
"The city is staking its claim as a major attraction for visitors from all over the world, showing everyone a little bit of the spirit which makes Bristol so special."
The event organisers pondering on how to follow the success of the Gromit Unleashed trail have now struck on the notion of a similar project for Shaun the Sheep in 2015.
Sproxton said: "We keep being asked ‘what’s next?’ and it’s certainly going to be a challenge to top this but the project partners are keen to see if we can scale up the idea with Shaun the Sheep in 2015 and roll it our nationally, or even internationally.
"We’re very much at an exploratory stage but with 2015 being the Chinese Year of the sheep, coupled with the charity fundraising potential and the release of our new movie, it seems like the perfect time. Where Gromit leads, sheep tend to follow."