TAMPA — Preliminary numbers show the International Indian Film Academy awards lived up to the hype in revving up the local economy.
The four-day series of events, ending with the April 26 awards ceremony at Raymond James Stadium, generated nearly $32 million in direct spending in Hillsborough County and a total economic impact of $56 million.
Economic impact figures take into account the trickle-down spending on goods, services and money spent by employees of hotels, restaurants and other businesses as a result IIFA.
The numbers were part of a report delivered to Hillsborough County commissioners Wednesday by Santiago Corrada, president and chief executive officer of Visit Tampa Bay, the county’s tourism organization. Corrada said the figures, though preliminary, came from a respected firm, Smith Travel Research.
“I wouldn’t have mentioned them unless I thought they were very accurate,” Corrada said.
Other numbers related to the event also were positive. Weekend hotel occupancy rates were up — 83 percent this year compared to 68 percent in 2013. On Saturday, April 26, hotel occupancy rates exceeded rates for the same Saturday a year before by 21 percent.
Revenue per available room, a measure of a hotel’s revenue divided by available rooms, was up from $57 last year to $93 during IIFA, a jump of 63 percent.
“RevPAR is one of the best indicators of success for a hotel general manager,” said Doug McClain, Visit Tampa Bay’s vice president of marketing and communications.
Other figures showed Hillsborough County tourism and government officials did a good job of using IIFA to advertise the Tampa area.
Media impressions — the number of times people received an impression of Tampa as a result of it being mentioned in combination with IIFA in newspapers, blogs, radio, television or any other kind of media — totaled 13.2 billion in April.
By comparison, media impressions for Tampa in the three months leading up to the 2012 Republican National Convention held here totaled 9.6 billion.
Those figures were derived from a newspaper clipping service and a media tracking service, McClain said.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham, who traveled to Macau, China, with Corrada last year to pitch Tampa as a host city for IIFA, said the economic impact results exceeded his expectations and showed the money and time spent luring the event here were worth it.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Higginbotham said. “It was an incredible return on investment.”
Hillsborough County spent $1 million and the state of Florida $700,000 in marketing the event. Most of the money paid to Wizcraft, the creators and producers of the event, came from the private sector, including the county’s Indian-American community.
Dr. Kiran Patel, a philanthropist and co-founder with his wife of the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, helped raise money for the event. Patel said he considered the Bollywood event a success before hearing the figures cited by Corrada.
“Culturally, economically, I’m happy and pleased with the outcome and the response,” Patel said. “Dollar-wise, I don’t know.”
One more positive note: Tampa police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reported no arrests related to the four days worth of events. There were three ejections, however, from Raymond James stadium.