Bollywood celebration could mean 24,000 room nights when it comes to Tampa next year

07/08/13 Janelle Irwin
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Tampa is set to become the first American city to host the International Indian Film Academy awards ceremony next June. The several-day long Bollywood event is expected to bring in at least $11 million in economic impact to the Tampa Bay area. But president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, Santiago Corrada said he expects that amount to be even higher.

“The film production, the film sales and the incredible Indian community that we not only have in Tampa, but Florida and the U.S. will contribute to even a larger turnout and greater returns on investment and it will provide …”

A coalition of community leaders working on plans for the awards weekend estimates 24,000 room nights booked for just that weekend. One reason Corrada hopes that number will be even larger is because there are 3.5 million people from India living in the United States and more than a half million tourist visas issued to people from India every year.

“There will be lots of opportunities for us to showcase our city. We’re planning on 32 events leading up to that weekend that will be full of events in June of 2014.”

Excitement surrounding the plans to host the International Indian Film Academy for their weekend-long celebration echoes that of local leaders during planning for the Republican National Convention. The city beefed up security for that and was criticized by some for over doing. Corrada said there will be large-scale security efforts, but to what extent hasn’t been determined yet.

“We’ve got great models to follow because we’ve used different security setups for RNC and Super Bowls. I believe it will be somewhere between the Superbowl and RNC.”

According to Corrada some venues have already been booked including the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the Tampa Convention Center. But he said there will also be an expectation of government to tidy up – comparing it to preparing for house guests. But that process, and security efforts, Corrada claims will be paid for by in-kind services, not necessarily through public funding.

“There’s hasn’t been an ask of public government, there hasn’t been any public dollars invested in this to date.”

A group of more than a dozen people working on plans for the Bollywood film awards just returned from a trip to Macau, China where this year’s event just concluded. Tampa was officially announced as the 2014 host during that trip. Host cities for several years after had already been chosen, but Tampa got a last minute shot after Peru was removed from consideration. Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham worked with the team to seal that deal.

“It is through art and entertainment that countries are brought together; that people … because we are really just one people.”

Two other Florida cities bid for the chance to host next summer’s awards – Orlando and Miami. Other cities considered were Chicago and San Francisco.

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