×

Banksy’s Dismaland boosts local economy by $30m

An anti-capitalist "bemusement park" resembling a child's worst nightmare has become a business-friendly dream come true for an English seaside town.

Banksy's latest art project, Dismaland, could generate up to £20 million ($30.4 million) in additional revenue and investment for Weston-super-Mare and its surrounding areas, Visit Somerset, the county's tourism authority announced Friday.


Banksy's Dismaland, Weston-Super-Mare, England.
Matthew Baker | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

While Dismaland is closing its doors this weekend, the five week-long exhibit has succeeded in putting the Somerset town on the map.

More than 4,000 people queued up each day to take a peek at Banksy's latest creation, suggesting an overall total of 150,000 attendees, including those from China, U.S. and Australia.

Somerset businesses both in and around Weston have seen substantial rises in popularity since Dismaland opened. Hotels received a 50 percent daily increase since the event, while rail travel had a 100 percent surge, and for attractions, a 20 percent rise.

"Dismaland has had a huge economic impact on Weston and the local region, especially on cultural influence," John Turner, Chief Executive Officer at Visit Somerset, told CNBC over the phone.

"This is going to be a very significant milestone change in Weston's history and I hope this will really put Weston-super-Mare on the map."

The resort town has been struggling to get back on its feet in recent years. The younger population have left to look for employment elsewhere, due to poor wage growth and job availability, while popularity in holiday destinations abroad has resulted in lower tourism figures.

Visit Somerset has been collaborating with North Somerset Council to ensure Banksy leaves a legacy on the area. Both organisations especially want to improve Weston's relationship with culture and the arts, for long-term prosperity.

"The whole (concept) of Dismaland is amazing, in terms of helping us capitalize on all those (regeneration) ambitions and bringing the whole thing to force. The profile and themes are brilliant in terms of connecting the creative and arts-based interest in the town, and painting the town in a different light that it was seen before," Rachel Lewis, North Somerset Council's regeneration manager, told CNBC in August.

General Views Of Banksy's Dismaland
Helen Boast | Getty Images | Getty Images
General Views Of Banksy's Dismaland

Banksy's pulling power has a track record. A previous exhibition, "Banksy vs Bristol Museum" generated a large number of crowds because of Banksy's desire to remain controversial. Consequently, 315,000 people attended the 12 week-long exhibition, which injected £10 million into Bristol's economy.

"Somerset has always been an underdog to the counties of Devon and Cornwall. However, we have some of the most iconic brands in the world, whether than be Glastonbury festival, whether that be Cheddar (cheese) or cider, all of which originated from Somerset."

"To have this with Banksy and Damien Hirst thrown into the mix, makes it hugely iconic. I think it's going to do fantastic things for Weston and Somerset," said Turner.

On Monday, Banksy said he was dismantling his latest exhibition and shipping its pieces to France to provide shelter to the masses of refugees and migrants camping outdoors, according to NBC.

—By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.