Charleston Wine + Food reported an economic impact of $18.6 million over the course of the five-day annual festival, up from $15.3 million in 2018. This impact number, derived by a third party study from the College of Charleston Office of Tourism Analysis, is the largest to-date.
“We couldn't be more happy and proud of this year's results. We welcomed nearly 26,000 guests and generated a measured economic impact of $18.6 million,” says Gillian Zettler, Executive Director for Charleston Wine + Food. “It's always exciting to see people respond positively to our programming and have that excitement translate into attendance and our largest economic impact to date. The results are a great achievement for our community.”
Charleston Wine + Food is renowned for offering creative, dynamic, and ever-changing programming that features top winemakers, chefs, culinary professionals, artists, and experts from around the globe that come together annually in March to produce a wine + food festival that rivals the very best of its kind. The 2019 festival was no exception, featuring 128 events across the greater Charleston area. “Over the course of this five day festival we are able to use food to bring people together, create new memories, and offer an experience that warms your belly and your heart, says Zettler.”
Additionally, the 2019 festival saw an uptick in local ticket buyers. Approximately 57% of attendees are local to the greater Charleston area. Visitors to Charleston and the festival continue to report Charleston Wine + Food as the main reason for their visit, and indicate that they plan to return to Charleston within the next 3 years. “I think the increase in local attendance is largely attributed to the diversity of our programming + experiences and the effort the organization has made since my time here to create more accessible price points,” says Zettler. This year’s ticket prices started at $65 and nearly 30 events on the schedule were under $100.
In addition to the economic impact that Charleston Wine + Food’s annual festival creates, the organization has a multifaceted partnership with One80 Place Training and the College of Charleston. At this year’s Opening Ceremony, two College of Charleston students were presented with multi-year scholarships and One80 Place Training with a financial contribution of $40,000. Since inception, Charleston Wine + Food has contributed more than $500,000 to organizations or persons that directly benefit the Lowcountry’s local foodway initiatives and strengthen our local community.
“As we enter our 15th year, we are already knee deep in planning the 2020 festival and we look forward to continuing to find new ways to inspire people to enjoy Charleston and our culinary + hospitality community,” says Zettler.
For more information and tickets to year-round Charleston Wine + Food events visit charlestonwineandfood.com.