In the community where I live, the Fourth of July is a big deal. The biggest deal, really, in terms of our community celebrations. For a full week leading up to the big day, we have all sorts of events and activities - all culminating in a parade on the afternoon of the Fourth.
Those of us who take part in these sorts of community events - festivals, parades, etc. - probably have a strong sense that these occasions are not just neutral events, but rather have an impact on our community. I recently ran across an academic paper that presents some research that confirms and documents that notion. Gianna Moscardo with the James Cook University Department of Tourism in Queensland, Australia wrote a report entitled, Analyzing the Role of Festivals and Events in Regional Development. It was published in Event Management (vol 11, pp 23-32).
The economic impact of festivals has been pretty well documented. Moscardo takes a different perspective, compiling several additional findings from 36 case studies. Here is what she learned about potential positive and negative impacts:
- Positive: income, multiplier effect from visitor spending, employment
- Negative: increased prices for locals, opportunity costs
- Positive: enhanced image as a "destination," extension of the tourism season
- Negative: risk of reputation damage
- Positive: new facilities and infrastructure, regeneration of rundown areas
- Negative: environmental damage, overcrowding, congestion
- Positive: social opportunities for locals, improved social networks
- Negative: commodization of culture, antisocial behavior, dissatisfaction with event image
- Positive: enhanced sense of community, excitement and pride
- Negative: conflict
- Positive: enhanced skills for volunteers and participants, support for other regional products and services, development of partnerships and alliances
- Negative: conflict with other regional activities