The Charleston Food + Wine Festival does just this. Located at the beginning of the tourist season in Charleston, it brings in high end guests to the city at a time when demand is just beginning to rise. The event always begins the weekend that the students at the Citadel and the College of Charleston go on spring break, so there is less volume of traffic to begin with. The event really helps the city to a strong week of hotel, shopping and restaurant sales. In 2011, the festival generated an economic impact of $7.3 million dollars.
The second thing this particular festival does well has been to establish a new secondary market for Charleston. While good food has always been present in Charleston, it was much more secretive. Since the festival began in 2006, it has worked hard to bring in the top culinary writers and influential sources into Charleston. The event has been used as a catalyst to demonstrate the best of the cuisine available in the city and has grown the gastronomic side of the industry into a powerhouse. Last year for instance, for the first time event, just as many visitors to Charleston cited food as one of the primary drivers to the city as history. This is a remarkable achievement considering the historic significance of the city.
Congrats to the organizers of the festival: Angel, Rick & Rick and the rest of the team on creating and maintaining a successful event that not only lifts itself up but the entire city. Well done!