Published: 19:20, 19 October 2021
| Updated: 19:53, 19 October 2021
The Elmer Parade, which saw highly coloured elephant sculptures scattered around Maidstone for nine weeks, was not only highly successful in raising money for the Heart Of Kent Hospice, but also brought extra business to the town, the charity has revealed.
When the parade concluded, the Elmers were sold at auction raising £312,750 for the hospice.
But a survey by Wild In Art showed that the Elmer trail was followed by 230,979 visitors – with 61% spending four days or more in the area finding all the Elmers.
They estimate the parade had a total economic impact of just over £7m.
More than two thirds of visitors enjoying the trail were from Maidstone, but the event also bought in visitors from further afield.
More than 10,000 trail maps were distributed, and the trail app was a real hit with 10,377 downloads, enabling visitors to unlock and record the number of Elmers they found.
Ann-Marie Kelly, the director of income generation at the Heart of Kent Hospice, said: "We’re delighted to see that 98% of local residents were really proud to have the trail taking place in their town."
She said: "We’re also pleased to see the trail attracted visitors of all ages with 56% of people surveyed telling us it was the main reason they had visited the town that day.
"Some 78% of people also said they stayed longer in the town because of the Parade and 50% extended their stay by more than one day to enjoy the trail.
"When we planned the location of the Elmer sculptures, we wanted to showcase all areas of the County town and a brilliant 53% of respondents said they had visited new places as a result.”
The survey of 1,300 people who followed the trail revealed that the average time spent Elmer hunting was just over four hours, and 45% of people visited all the 51 Elmers on the trail.
Charlie Langhorne, MD at Wild in Art said: "After a difficult 18 months due to Covid, it’s great to see that the trail has enabled people to enjoy Maidstone again and also to encourage visitors to the area."
Elmer was based on the children's story-book character created by author David McKee.