Charleston Wine + Food Festival’s economic impact rose 25% over last year

Kevin Johnson from the Grocery serves Carolina Cup oysters to Becky Miller during the opening night party of the BB&T Wine + Food Festival held at the South Carolina Aquarium on Feb. 28. (Grace Beahm/ Buy this photo

The economic impact on the local economy from the recent BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival shot up nearly 25 percent over last year, according to a preliminary study by the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis.

The festival saw increases in attendance, out-of-town guests and total spending as the economic impact rose to $10.7 million from $8.6 million in 2012.

The festival welcomed about 23,000 guests over the weekend, an increase from 21,250 in 2012; more than 36 percent of participants were non-locals living more than 50 miles away with 13 percent having never visited Charleston; average spending per out-of-town guest was $877, up from $826 in 2012; and 57 percent of non-local guests said they were likely to return to Charleston for the 2014 event.

Helping to boost the numbers were an additional 700 out-of-town guests over last year, according to Wayne Smith, associate professor at the college’s School of Business.

“This year’s survey results prove once again how important the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival has become to Charleston,” said interim Executive Director Rick Jerue. “It has become an essential ingredient in our city’s hospitality community and continues to assist in advancing Charleston as the top city to visit in the world.”

Final audited figures on the festival will be available in July.

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