Reggae music festival injects $22 million into St. Pete’s economy • St Pete Catalyst


According to a report by an independent research firm, the Reggae Rise Up music festival injected $22 million into the St. Pete economy last October.

The Downtown St. Petersburg Partnership, in conjunction with festival organizers, engaged Tampa-based Meshsem, Inc. to survey attendees at the three-day Vinoy Park festival. The 2021 Reggae Rise-Up drew 15,000 people daily, with the majority of them staying in local hotels, motels and B&Bs.

That’s all good news, as the seventh Reggae Rise Up begins Friday at the fenced bayside venue. It is about to sell out, although some ticket levels remain (click here).

(It’s not the “seventh edition,” as Covid has forced the event to be postponed and rescheduled multiple times.)

The multi-band festival, said Jason Mathis, CEO of the Downtown Partnership, “is such a great fit for downtown St. Pete – the vibe, the energy, it’s totally consistent with what is St. Pete.

“It makes sense in terms of improving our culture. Strengthen our sense of belonging and our values. And also to improve our economy. And the economy is the thing that we haven’t always articulated or been very clear about in the past.

Meshsem reported that 2,021 participants came from every US state, as well as Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, Croatia, Switzerland, Antigua, Angola, France, Aruba, Albania, Peru, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Italy, the Bahamas and the United Kingdom.

Throughout each year, Utah-based Reggae Rise Up travels between four different US cities. Festival co-founder Bryan Borreson said the St. Petersburg event was always the busiest.

“There’s a certain kind of magic that happens here,” he explained. “Which is the water, mixed with the grass and the sand…and the backdrop of the city. And the whole community is behind us when we show up. And we’re here quite a bit, so it’s a second home, so to speak.

The breakdown of expenses in the Meshsem report:

Direct impact: $18,923,310.56 in direct economic output. Takes into account the money injected directly into the economy by participants’ spending on tickets, hotels, restaurants and purchases from suppliers. In addition, this includes the expenses of local event staff to organize the event.

Indirect impact: $2,425,149.44 in indirect economic output. Includes revenue resulting from event expenses – eg vendors purchase items/raw materials from other local businesses so they can sell finished goods at the event.

Induced impact: $628,053.04 in induced economic output. Local expenditures (at the household level) made possible by salaries earned or expenditures by participants during the event.

“Sometimes, says Mathis, you do an event and it’s just money circulating in the local community. The compelling thing about this event is that so many people came from outside of St. Pete. So these expenses are new money coming into our community.

Terry Marks, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, added, “It’s not just the economic impact, it’s also the spirit of reggae. And the humanity of reggae, the energy and the inspiration of reggae. And all that music is. So it’s really a gift for our city.


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