Study: SXSW economic impact was $315 million in 2014

Sep 12, 2014
Austin American Statesman

This year’s South by Southwest festival events had a $315 million impact on the Austin economy, according to a new study


That’s a 44 percent increase from $218 million in 2013


Consulting firm Greyhill Advisors compiled the report, which was commissioned by SXSW organizers. Since Greyhill Advisors began producing the annual report in 2007, SXSW’s economic impact has more than tripled from its initial $95 million


“Besides focusing the eyes of the world on our city in March, SXSW brings employment to many thousands of our citizens and allows them to provide for their families,” said Michael Rollins, president of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. “From entertainment venues that employ local bands to hotels to retail establishments and all the support industry, this event has helped drive the thriving economy in Central Texas.”


SXSW events this year attracted 44,500 registrants, up from 41,700 in 2013, according to Greyhill Advisors


The March festival, which includes music, interactive, film and education events, included 13 days of industry conferences, a four-day trade show, a six-night music festival featuring 2,100 bands and a nine-day film festival with 400 screenings


Austin economist Jon Hockenyos, who was not involved with the study, said the ripple effects of SXSW are felt in Austin both in dollars and in exposure


“Although SXSW creates challenges with having lots more people in town, the reality is that lots more people bring lots more money with them. And they spend it in the local economy, at restaurants, at bars, at hotels,” Hockenyos said. “That translates into more pay for workers and for suppliers.In addition, many of us are renting out our homes. And the city of Austin also directly benefits through an increase in taxes. ”


In addition, SXSW events raise Austin’s visibility in ways that can’t be calculated, he said. “Austin is on the radar, not just for visitors, but for people looking to move and companies looking to relocate. That’s a little less of a direct benefit, but it’s part of the impact as well.”


Not surprisingly, the study showed that SXSW was a boon for hoteliers. SXSW directly booked 60,450 citywide hotel room nights for attendees, an 8 percent increase from 2013


Hotel occupancy during March reaches one of its highest levels of the year, thanks to SXSW and a number of other events that happen simultaneously, including spring break and the State of Texas Fair and Rodeo


The demand for rooms helped push the average nightly hotel rate up 12 percent to more than $287


In terms of publicity for Austin, the study said this year’s SXSW generated far-reaching media coverage, including 86.7 billion broadcast, print and online impressions. The report said the value of the coverage totaled more than $78.8 million




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