Wilbur Snr, Birmingham City Council's fictional American tourist, inspired thousands more people to visit museums, libraries and parks, it was claimed yesterday.
Council officials said the £200,000 Tried and Tested advertising campaign, featuring the hapless Wilbur as a wide-eyed hillbilly besotted with Birmingham's leisure and cultural facilities, had been a great success.
Visits to libraries were up by eight per cent since Wilbur appeared in August, while museums recorded a 44 per cent jump in visitors.
Critics condemned the Wilbur initiative as patronising, ill-thought out and expensive.
But Ray Hassall, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said the £200,000 cost represented less than one per cent of his department's total budget and was much less than private firms would spend.