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An annual three-day Gulf Shores music festival provides a big boost to the region’s economy, generating about $31 million for the local economy from businesses related to lodging, food and entertainment, according to an Auburn University study.
Professor Keivan Deravi oversaw the study released Monday and presented to the Gulf Shores City Council. He told WALA-TV in Mobile that researchers interviewed business owners and reviewed previous studies and statistics related to the festival.
“We just collected all the financial information, we interviewed the local business folks, we go back to the primary studies, we look at the tourism industry in the area, we look at the relevance statistics, we just try to be as all inclusive as possible,” Deravi said.
Researchers estimated the May festival brings in about $14 million to entertainment-related businesses, more than $10 million to hotels and other lodging providers and $6.5 million to restaurants and other services. They found that in addition to the immediate local impact, millions of people nationwide knew about the festival, and in turn, what Gulf Shores has to offer.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people who came last year in our survey said they want to come back, and as you heard, 600 million people heard about this festival around the country, so it’s become a national brand, really put us on the map,” said Sean O’Connell, Hangout Festival Director.
Some city leaders said they fear the growth of the event could bring in crowds that are not family friendly.
“Long term, that’s our bread and butter … to make sure the families continues to come and make sure it’s that type of a destination,” said Grant Brown with the City of Gulf Shores.
But researchers said they found no data to support those concerns.
“Seventy percent of the folks (that come to the festival) are employed full time, they’re young adults, they’re making dollars, they come from good homes, but they dress down, you’re at the beach,” O’Connell said.
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