For some residents, special events like Daytona 500, Bike Week or any of the many art and cultural festivals are a time of increased traffic and inconvenience, for others they are a chance to enjoy the area’s many wonders. But for everyone, those events bring an influx of visitor spending and add to the overall economic well-being of the region.
According to a report from Mid-Florida Marketing & Research commissioned by the Halifax Area Advertising Authority, special events have a very special economic impact on the Greater Daytona region.
The report focused on four major special events in 2017: Speedweeks, Bike Week, the July 4 Weekend and Biketoberfest. The report found the base economic impact of the four events comes to just under $238 million, with nearly half coming from Speedweeks alone with $102 million.
Bike Week adds another $99 million to the total, with July 4 Weekend chipping in $22 million and Biketoberfest contributing $16 million. The information was compiled through interviews conducted with visitors to the area for each of the events who stayed overnight in a hotel or motel. Visitors were asked about previous visits to the area as well as what they spent for their visits.
The significance of these four events in particular, as well as other special events throughout the year, is no surprise to Lori Campbell-Baker, executive director of the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“We sometimes like to think of ourselves as the Event Capital of Florida, with dozens of annual events and festivals that create the unique tapestry of our tourism product,” she said. “A great number of visitors initially come to the Daytona Beach for events, then they return time and time again for vacations. And they sometimes even relocate their families and/or their businesses to the destination.”
Campbell-Baker said in addition to the impact of direct spending and sales tax revenue they bring, special events – from major international affairs like the Daytona 500 to neighborhood art shows and food truck rallies – also “shine a positive spotlight” on the area.
“They help to keep our local residents employed and our local businesses thriving, and they even help to even out some of the seasonality of tourism’s visitation patterns,” she said.
The many art and cultural events also help to highlight the quality of life of the region.
“Events like the Halifax Art Festival provide us a great way to expose visitors to the area’s many cultural assets, and [those like] Jeep Beach (with its vast philanthropic work) make these fun events important to our residents’ quality of life as well,” Campbell-Baker said. “We’ve recently been fortunate to add the Welcome to Rockville music festival to our roster. And of course, our community has been happily welcoming the National Cheerleaders Association Classic for decades. All of these are amazing assets that we greatly appreciate.
The economic impact of those big events isn’t limited to the immediate area, with the effects felt across Volusia County.
“Something interesting in this area is how the Daytona Beach events affect us,” said Georgia Turner, executive director of the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority. “We sell out (of hotel rooms) during the 500 and we benefit from Bike Week and the Welcome to Rockville festival that just happened.”
Turner said the spillover from big special events is a boon for the 14 communities the Authority represents.
“To have big events like those right next to you is something that is really wonderful,” she said. “We also get visitors to Seminole County because they have a huge sports initiative there.”
Turner said local events, such as the DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts bring visitors to the community, along with other local events which also help smaller areas like West Volusia.
“When you are a small destination like us, it brings attention to your area,” she said. “Even a small event can have a big impact.”
The impact from events goes well beyond the county line and helps burnish the region’s image, according to Helga van Eckert, Volusia County economic development director.
“The county has a long history of hosting events that draw tens of thousands of national and international visitors to the area,” she said. These events generate regional revenue through hotel and hospitality fees, restaurant receipts and event fees; provide employment opportunities and showcase Volusia County’s assets on an international stage.”