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Politics

Bollywood Oscars delivers $26.4 million impact, study says

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Published:   |   Updated: June 3, 2014 at 05:24 PM

TAMPA — The Bollywood Oscars — with its celebrity appearances, packs of screaming fans, a free concert for 8,000 and green carpet events — generated an economic impact of $26.4 million, close to original projections for the April 24-26 event.

The show’s producer, International Indian Film Academy, estimated before the event that the economic impact would be $30 million.

In the days following the event, the number was revised down to $15 million by the tourist development agency Visit Tampa Bay then revised up again in early May to $56 million.

It turned out the film academy’s original projection was closest.

The $26.4 million number is from an economic impact report commissioned by Visit Tampa Bay and completed by the Bonn Marketing Research Group of Tallahassee.

The report says $19.9 million came from direct spending — an average of $572 per traveling party per day. That’s the second-highest visitor spending total in the 15 years of the event; Toronto in 2011 was highest at $24 million.

The balance in Tampa, more than $6 million, came from indirect spending, including local businesses preparing for the event.

An estimated 30,000 visitors came to Hillsborough County for the Bollywood Oscars, the first time the event was ever held in the United States, and 23,594 attended the awards celebration at Raymond James Stadium.

Motel and hotel occupancy rate rose 21.1 percent for the night of the awards show. There was also a 34.7 percent increase in average daily room rates leading to a 62.1 percent increase in room revenue.

For Santiago Corrada, CEO and president of Visit Tampa Bay, three numbers from the new study stand out: 13.2 billion media impressions across television, radio, print and online outlets; 24 percent of visitors say they plan to return to Tampa; and 98.2 percent rated their experience as good or excellent.

The numbers mean more tourist revenue in coming years.

“And the show has not even aired yet,” said Corrada.

The five-hour Bollywood Oscars live show will be edited to three hours and broadcast June 15 on the Hindi-language Stars Plus channel. It is carried by Verizon FIOS and Dish TV.

This, added Corrada, will be a call to the world to visit Tampa.

“It was a great return on our investment,” he said.

Hillsborough County spent $1 million and the state of Florida $700,000, using the money to market the area as a tourist destination to likely awards attendees. Tampa provided in-kind services such as discounts on venue rental fees.

Corrada noted that of the $1 million spent by the county, $100,000 came from local taxpayer money. The remaining $900,000 was from the county bed tax paid by visitors.

This is compared to other host cities that spent millions of dollars to stage the event. The government of Ontario, Canada, for example, had to kick in $12 million in 2011 to help bear costs for the show in Toronto.

Local philanthropist Kiran Patel shouldered the bulk of the local financial burden.

Not everything about the Bollywood Oscars has gone according to plan, though.

It had been announced that a Bollywood film titled “Saat Hindustani” would begin production in Tampa immediately after the Bollywood Oscars. The Hillsborough County Commission even approved of a $50,000 local incentive for it.

But Dale Gordon, executive director of the Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission, said she has not heard from the production company in over a month.

She is unsure what the future holds for the film.

Still, there was no dampening Corrada’s spirits.

“I’m a very optimistic person and always see the bright side of everything,” he said. “But even I am more overjoyed than usual. This was a success.”

So much so that Corrada would welcome the chance to do it again.

The Indian Film Academy prefers to hold its awards show in a different city each year but returned a second time to Macau when problems arose in the chosen host city.

“They were very pleased with how everything turned out,” said Corrada of the Indian Academy. “If they are ever in a jam, I feel confident they would come to us again.”

pguzzo@tampatrib.com

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