Higginbotham Helps Secure Tampa Bay As Host City For 2014 Bollywood Oscars

By Tamas Mondovics

The city of Tampa and surrounding communities have ten months to get ready to host the stars of Bollywood, as they take advantage of the various venues throughout the bay area and celebrate its version of the Oscars in June 2014.

The news of Tampa Bay’s selection as the first U.S. host city of the upcoming event and to officially welcome representatives of the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) was announced earlier this month during a press conference by the members of the Visit Tampa Bay delegation that recently returned from Macau, China, with the winning bid.

“We are very proud to announce that the 15th annual IIFA weekend and awards is coming to our city, marking the first time the international world showcase event will be held in the United States of America,” said Santiago Corrada, President & CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, the independent not-for-profit organization which represents more than 700 businesses throughout Tampa Bay and promotes the area as a choice destination for conventions and visitors.

Thrilled with the prospect of showcasing the community, Corrada emphasized that Tampa Bay makes a great host for events and meetings of all sizes and will be joining a list of IIFA host cities such as Amsterdam, Singapore and Toronto.

“This is a huge event that rivals the Super Bowl and the RNC as it puts Tampa in the national spotlight, placing an unprecedented international attention on Tampa Bay,” he said “We are ready to welcome the IIFA to our dynamic destination.”

The multi-day program that is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the area is said to host more than 30 events leading up to the awards ceremony with an estimated 30,000 visitors, 12,000 room nights and an $18 million economic impact to the area.

Outbidding cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco, officials say that the direct result of the event is an estimated 35 percent increase of tourism to the Tampa Bay area, while it is said to provide employment and business opportunities and the use of venues such as the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Raymond James Stadium and the Florida State Fairgrounds just to name a few.

As a member of the delegation, Hillsborough Commissioner Al Higginbotham told reporters his unquestionable support of bringing the event to Tampa through his ongoing support of the county’s Indian community.

“Since 2010, I have met with representatives of more than 30 countries, but it is through arts and entertainment that countries are brought together,” Higginbotham said adding that it was the delegation’s strong determination and team effort to bring the event to Tampa that has impressed the Indian film academy.

Tampa Bay businessman Chetan (“Jason”) R. Shah, who had a significant hand in the bidding results, said that considering its magnitude, the event will put Tampa Bay on the map like no other.

With more than 1,000 films annually selling four billion tickets (compared to 1.2 billion in the U.S.), India has become the largest producer of movies in the world.

“The Bollywood Oscars is a major attraction, and an economic boost to any host city,” Shah said. “Besides the dozens of events leading up to it, the IIFA awards weekend is India’s biggest media event, with a viewership of almost 800 million, attracting more than 500 media from across the world and is the most-watched annual entertainment event.”

While no public funds are expected to be needed to host the event, city leaders said that when it comes to security, transportation and sanitation, just to name a few, Tampa will be ready to meet the needs of its visitors and the local community.

For information about IIFA and Visit Tampa Bay, please go to www.gobollywoodtampabay.com., or www.visittampabay.com, or www.iifa.com.