The annual Coachella music blowout in Indio has become big business for the Palm Springs area, growing even bigger with the addition of the Stagecoach country music weekend in 2007.
But now a third music festival, targeting baby boomers and classic rock fans, is expected to nearly double the spending generated by the two established music celebrations.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival drew 250,000 music lovers to the Empire Polo Grounds over three weekends this spring, sparking an estimated economic impact of more than $403 million, according to a new economic study.
And with the addition of a third festival slated for October, dubbed Desert Trip, the projected economic impact of all the music celebrations combined will nearly double to $805 million, said Michael Bracken, managing partner and chief economist at Development Management Group, the contract economist for Goldenvoice, the promoter of the festivals.
Spending by Coachella and Stagecoach visitors this year represented a nearly 60% increase over 2012, when the dual festivals attracted 225,000 visitors and were responsible for an economic impact of $254 million, Bracken said.
Although attendance only rose by 11% over the last four years, spending jumped more dramatically partly because of a big increase in housing costs, especially with the growing popularity of vacation rentals, he said.
The average per-night cost for Coachella fans grew from $68 in 2012 to $116 in 2016, Bracken said. But some, more cushy housing options typically run several thousand dollars a night.
Desert Trip, snarkily nicknamed "Oldchella," will feature the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and the Who.
The festival, stretching over three days, is expected to nearly double the total economic impact partly because Desert Trip will offer more high-priced reserved seats than the other events, Bracken said.
It's also likely that the older music fans expected to attend the October celebration will spend more lavishly on lodging, food and drinks than the Coachella and Stagecoach fans, but Bracken said he has not analyzed such data to confirm that theory.
The latest financial numbers are good news for the region.
Tourism in the Palm Springs area generated $6.4 billion in spending in 2015, up nearly 10% since 2013, according to the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Recreation and entertainment grew 16% in that time, while spending on lodging increased by 17%, according to the bureau.
Despite the growing enthusiasm for the various music festivals, the most popular tourist attraction in the Palm Springs area remains Joshua Tree National Park, which drew a record 2 million visitors in 2015, the visitors bureau said.
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