Landing the International Indian Film Academy's annual awards program, commonly known as the "Bollywood Oscars," is a financial coup for the region that is expected to have an $11 million economic impact. But the academy's Weekend and Awards ceremony also will bring global attention to Tampa's reputation for smartly handling difficult undertakings such as the Republican National Convention and Super Bowls. Hosting the International Indian Film Academy festivities will likely put Tampa in the running for other international events and should add momentum to the region's quest for foreign tourism and trade. For instance, the University of South Florida medical school's downtown Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, which uses sophisticated simulators for medical training, is being marketed to foreign physicians.
Local officials only have a year to get ready for the awards, which in the past have resulted in more than 24,000 hotel room bookings. But given the city's track record, which includes four Super Bowls, we have no doubt the host team will be ready to impress our guests. All those involved in attracting this prestigious event merit gratitude and congratulations. Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, in particular, quickly recognized its importance and made it a priority. He was among the delegation who traveled to Macau, China - where the 2013 Weekend and Awards ceremony is being held this week - to meet with IIFA officials. (The trip was financed with private donations.) Many others also were involved, including Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada and Tampa Bay Trade and Protocol Council Vice President Deborah Wilkinson. To appreciate the significance of the International Indian Film Academy's decision, consider: The 2012 event was hosted by Singapore; the 2011 one by Toronto. Dubai and Melbourne, Australia, were reported to be competing with Tampa for the next event, which will be the first time it will be held in the United States. This impressive achievement underscores Tampa's appeal and should motivate community leaders to zealously pursue additional international opportunities.