Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year has been hailed as one of the best ever, so far attracting 10 million visitors.
With three months still to go until the city winds up its celebrations, events have boosted the local economy by £1bn.
The specially commissioned Gustav Klimt exhibition at Tate Liverpool has proved to be one of the most popular events.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described Liverpool’s Capital of Culture programme as “one of the most successful” ever staged.
He said: “It’s turning out to be one of the most successful Capital of Culture programmes that we have ever had.
“We are now trying to create a network of European Capitals of Culture to build on Liverpool’s experience.”
Tate Liverpool recorded a three-fold rise in visitor numbers from June to August 2008 compared to the same period in 2007 during the Klimt exhibition, and visitors to the Albert Docks were up 45% on the first nine months of last year.
Visitors to Merseyside Maritime Museum, the Walker Art Gallery and National Conservations Centre have risen 70% on 2007.
The city’s summer events programme, which included The Tall Ships’ Races, Mathew Street Music Festival, Go Superlambananas and La Machine – a 50ft roaming spider – also attracted 2.5m people to the city.
Hotels have also benefited from the packed programme of events with bookings up to the end of August rising by a quarter on last year resulting in a total of 516,000 room nights sold.
When the Capital of Culture celebrations end in January, more than 50 international and European premieres from the world of music, film, theatre and art will have been staged in the city.
Phil Redmond, Creative Director of Liverpool Culture Company, said: “The people’s reaction to our Capital of Culture year has been phenomenal.
“They have voted with their feet and powerfully demonstrated that the city’s creative sector is a real force to be reckoned with.
“Liverpool is building on its international reputation for creativity that is in all our interest to maintain and develop.”
Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of Liverpool City Council and Deputy Chairman of Liverpool Culture Company, added: ”These amazing figures once again underline why culture is now a major driver in our economy.”