The Beatles industry has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It has grown from grass roots level into a dynamic sector within Merseyside. Tourism over a period of 16 years. What is surprising is that this growth has been achieved largely unaided. The industry is not a hugely profitable one and this fact can be borne out with references to the large number of businesses who have entered the industry, with the expectation of instant returns, by merely applying the name Beatles to a product or service, only to fail within a matter of months.
Three businesses have survived since the early 1980s and today they are the only major players in the Beatles industry, namely Cavern City Tours Ltd, The Beatles Shop and The Beatles Story (which evolved out of Beatle City). The fact that they remain active is due to a combination of three factors:
That there is a demand from tourists for a Beatle industry.
The firms who entered the industry to make ‘quick money’ and were not committed to the industry nor to the area have been weeded out and no longer operate.
Importantly, these three businesses have invested their own money and resources into the industry and future. It has been recently recognised at Liverpool City Council meetings that:
The Beatles industry has been largely neglected by the public sector and it has been under-funded and under-supported.
The Beatles industry has enormous potential for the future.
Market research by the Merseyside Tourism and Conference Bureau has determined that The Beatles are synonymous with the city (especially abroad) even more so than Liverpool Football Club despite their enormous international success. In answer to the simple question “what does Liverpool mean to you?”, the most common response was: “The Beatles”. The Beatles are part of the history not only of the region, but of the whole world. The Beatles mean originality, genius, talent, humour, and Liverpool. We must capitalise on our direct links with the most important and successful entertainment phenomenon the modern world has ever witnessed. On a visit to The World Travel Market in London, the largest travel trade fair in the world, it was interesting to see that the City of Detroit was represented (not a typical tourist destination, but funding was found from somewhere to attend such an important travel fair) and that unashamedly and to great effect, their exhibition is known for, its association with Motown records (Motor Town = Motown) and videos and displays of The Temptations and Stevie Wonder were visually dramatic. It made the visitor immediately interested in the exhibition and ultimately, hopefully, the region. Dallas did a similar marketing ploy utilising a JR clone and a video of Southfork. With an international audience, both exhibitors played their strongest hand. With this competition, our display highlighting West Kirkby and Croxteth Country Park cannot compare. The Americans had left us standing in terms of presentation, selling, promotion and impact. One wonders at the exploitation, or utilisation of The Beatles had they been born elsewhere.
The Beatles are a world-wide phenomenon, perhaps even The world-wide phenomenon. We must now utilise this asset to the benefit of the city, but three small independent businesses cannot market world-wide as the finance just does not exist. The industry needs extensive, short-term pump priming over a five year period in order to eventually stand alone and develop throughout the next century. This support is long overdue and the impact that such funding will have will be dramatic. The industry is here to stay and parallels with Shakespeare’s Stratford are obvious. The return for Liverpool will be measured in terms of employment, income generated, infra structure and image building.