San Diego hotel managers said Monday that, with a better marketing effort, arts programs in San Diego could generate significantly more lodging revenue than last year's Soviet Arts Festival.
Tourists who visited San Diego to see the Faberge eggs exhibition, the festival highlight, spent more than $1.3 million on lodging, according to a report by CIC Research, a marketing research firm hired by the San Diego Museum of Art, which hosted the exhibition.
"We believe a festival like this can be very positive for San Diego," said Reint Reinders, president of the San Diego County Hotel-Motel Assn. "But, for the next one, we should probably sit down earlier to package hotel rooms and to set up participation venues so we would have a more direct benefit."
San Diego hoteliers could follow the example of their Boston colleagues, who recently created a weekend package deal that included coveted tickets to an exhibit of works by Impressionist painter Claude Monet, he said.
The full economic benefit of the Soviet Arts Festival will probably never be known because hoteliers failed to track occupancy rates during individual events, Reinders said.
The hotel industry was interested in the museum's report because nearly $3 million in hotel occupancy tax funds helped finance the festival.
"It's debatable in retrospect whether there were enough hotel rooms generated to pay for the $3 million," Reinders said. "But, since it was the first festival, it had a lot of other goals, one of which was to draw people from out of town. On balance, it was a pretty good program."
The report provides only a partial picture of the economic impact of the festival because its sole focus was the 11-week-long Faberge exhibition, which ran from Oct. 22 to Jan. 7. The impact of other festival events--dance and opera, for instance--were not included in the report.
About 67,558 tourists came to San Diego just to see the Faberge exhibition, spending an average of $62 a day on transportation, meals and lodging, and netting businesses nearly $15.5 million, the report said. Another 10,542 tourists visiting for other reasons also attended the exhibit.
Visitors who came for the Faberge eggs spent $2.3 million in meals, $2.3 million in shopping, $1.3 million in lodging, $915,000 in other amusements, $319,000 in taxis, buses and rental cars and $203,000 in alcoholic beverages, the report said. In most categories, the total impact was shown to be twice as large as the amount of money tourists actually spent to help account for otherwise hidden economic benefits.
The out-of-towners stayed in San Diego an average of 1.8 days, with 34% booking hotel rooms and 23.9% staying with relatives or friends, the report said.
"People who picked up Time magazine and read about the Faberge eggs read editorial copy we couldn't have bought," said Tom Vincent, general manager of the San Diego Princess Resort. "We put ourselves on the face of the cultural world with the Faberge exhibit."