The Sunshine Economy: Books, Basel, Boats, Booze

Nov 24, 2014

A shot from the street fair at the 2001 Miami Book Fair International.
Credit Miami Book Fair International / Courtesy

South Florida knows how to throw a party. And it better, considering how important hospitality is to the regional economy. From conferences and conventions to fairs and festivals, the event business picks up as temperatures up north drop. Some are for out-of-towners exclusively, others celebrate South Florida for South Floridians.

To get a sense of the economics and local emotions involved, The Sunshine Economy spoke with the driving forces behind four big events that dot the South Florida map.

Click through the slides below this interactive map to read, see and hear more about our biggest bashes.

Big events may garner a lot of attention and bring with them plenty of community pride, but University of South Florida Economics Professor Philip Porter is skeptical about any claims a single event makes about bringing an economic boon to town.  

"One of the problems that happens is when an event is isolated, there's no pressure for the community to respond to that." He argues the frequency of events is more important the event's impact on economic activity -- such as new businesses starting up, existing businesses expanding and new job creation. "If you have a series of events that occur every week or every day then the community builds new hotels. They need to new restaurants to handle the tourist traffic and that employs people and the impact can be fairly substantial."

Under his analysis, Porter says, a Super Bowl or a national political convention is "no more important than a girls' 16-and-under AAU volleyball tournament." Though, clearly, what is different is the community pride in the big events and the attention high profile events receive, especially from out-of-town media. Porter acknowledges the media attention, for a place like South Florida and its variety of big events, can be valuable.