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Friday, 13 October 2017 10:19

Study shows huge economic benefits of kite festival

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An economic impact study by Tourism Saskatchewan highlights the significant economic and tourism benefit of the Windscape Kite Festival and the associated Long Day’s Night music festival for Swift Current.

During 2017 the tourist and operational expenditures of the two festivals generated gross output impacts of $2.78 million in the city. As a result, these festivals contributed $1.56 million to the city’s gross domestic product and supported almost 39 jobs.
According to Shann Gowan, who was the artistic and executive director of these festivals until her retirement at the end of September, it was the first time that such a survey was done to determine the economic impact of these festivals. It was selected as a pilot project in the province, because the Windscape Kite Festival received Tourism Saskatchewan’s 2014 marquee event of the year award.
“We are a pretty unique tourism event here in Saskatchewan,” she said. “We won the marquee event of the year for Saskatchewan two years ago and it was the first time besides the Grey Cup that they handed that out.”
The pilot study was also made possible through the involvement of festival staff and volunteers, who helped to collect the information for the survey.
“We took a form around to every hotel, motel, campground, bed and breakfast, and asked them to track the number of rooms that were directly related, if somebody said they were there because of the kite festival,” she explained. “Then we went around and picked them up after the festival.”
In previous years some basic information about visitors were collected at the road entrances to the kite festival, for example where people were from and how many people were in each vehicle.
“This year we just increased it in complexity, because we wanted to know if anybody came both days,” she said. “So on Sunday they had to distinguish whether they were returnees or whether they were new guests, and then once people got out of their cars and started walking up to the festival site, we had 10 people standing in that area that did a little more extensive survey with everyone.”
The survey data indicated a total of 11,429 people attended the 2017 festival over the two days of the event. While 10,325 individuals attended one day, there were 1,104 people who attended both days.
There were 5,109 visitors from Swift Current, representing 49 per cent of attendees.
There were 5,216 out-of-town visitors, of which 37 per cent were from Saskatchewan, eight per cent from Alberta, three per cent from elsewhere in Canada, two per cent from the United States and one per cent from other countries.
The tourism impact of these out-of-town visitors were significant. They generated a gross output impact of $1.45 million, which resulted in a direct impact of $1.01 million and contributed $870,000 to the city’s gross domestic product. Their spending supported 15.2 full-time jobs and generated $118,000 in provincial tax revenues and $180,000 in federal tax revenues.
She was pleasantly surprised by some of the information in this study, for example market profiles of the festival visitors.
“I actually didn't think they would go to all the trouble of doing all the postal codes and giving me the details on who our clientele are,” she said. “The level of detail that they were able to get is pretty extraordinary. … So knowing those kind of statistics will help us target our marketing a little better.”
The market profiles are beneficial to understand who are visiting the kite festival. For example, visitors from Regina, Saskatoon, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge are mostly young families and couples. Older families and couples are usually from towns and rural areas in Saskatchewan, while suburban families with above average income and children of varying ages might be from cities such as Regina and Saskatoon.
“We get a lot of day trips from all of Saskatchewan,” she said. “Some of those stay overnight but a lot of them just make a day trip, and from southern Alberta. They have the stats of whether they were a young family or an older couple. So we'll be able to use some of that and they're diverse. We get older couples and really young families, and then we also get huge family groups from Regina or Saskatoon, so that's kind of cool.”
Gowan felt the information from this study will be useful to target the marketing efforts for the kite festival.
“I think it's going to change the way the marketing is get done,” she said. “It will become a little more focused on exactly who it is we're looking for. The goal is to get the kite festival up to 15,000 people … and increasing the percentage of out-of-town people up a little bit more.”

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Matthew Liebenberg