Miami Beach Considers Another Five Years for SOBEWFF

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach Considers Another Five Years for SOBEWFF:

Annual south beach wine and food festival has become a popular top tier event

Another major event wants to make a long-term commitment to Miami Beach. The Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) is asking the City for a five-year agreement to continue their popular star-studded culinary event.
For the past 16 years, SOBEWFF has been operating with two-year agreements in which the City waives permitting fees and receives sponsor and other community benefits. Similar to long-term commitments the City recently made to Art Basel and Design Miami, if approved by Commissioners this week, the SOBEWFF would return to its current locations through February 2023.
In a memo to Commissioners, City Manager Jimmy Morales wrote, “SOBEWFF has become one of the largest and most well-known festivals of its kind in the country, attracting visitors worldwide. The proceeds of SOBEWFF directly benefit the Florida International University (FIU) School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and underline the reputation of the City of Miami Beach as a world-class culinary destination.”
The 17th Annual Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival “showcasing the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities” is scheduled for Thursday, February 21 through Sunday, February 24, 2019. The 2019 fee waiver request totals approximately $120,000.
Like Art Basel and Design Miami, SOBEWFF is classified by the City as a Priority 1 event due to the significant number of hotel rooms booked.
In its Profile of Attendees and Economic Impact for the 2018 SOBEWFF, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) reports “The Festival now attracts more than 60,000 guests annually to its 85+ events throughout the five-day weekend.”
The GMCVB estimates SOBEWFF “had a total Miami-Dade County economic impact of more than $20.5 million in direct expenditures. Furthermore, over $13.7 million in indirect/induced expenditures were also generated as a result of the event – creating a total economic impact of more than $34.2 million.” 
“Locally 5,207 jobs were directly supported by the event and 2,145 jobs were indirectly supported; for a net total of 7,173 jobs supported,” according to the GMCVB.
The report attributed more than $2.1 million in local taxes generated to SOBEWFF Festival and an estimated hotel room demand of 30,576 nights.
“During the week of the Festival, hotel occupancy (88.9%) and average daily room rates ($390.32) on Miami Beach were up compared to the same time period/area in 2017,” the GMCVB said. “This created an estimated tax revenue gain of 15.9% over the prior year on Miami Beach.”
Less than half of those in attendance were residents of Miami-Dade, though when the geographic area is expanded, two-thirds of total respondents said they were from South Florida. An additional 7% came from other parts of Florida, 26% from other states, and 2% were international visitors.
More than half of out-of-town visitors stayed at a hotel/motel and “90% of total visitors who used paid lodging stayed in Miami-Dade,” according to the report, and “most said they were staying in Miami Beach (82%).”
SOBEWFF attracts an affluent, well-educated audience that skews heavily female (65% of respondents). Age-wise, it is fairly diverse with 26% in the 26-35 age range, 22% in the 36-45 age group, 24% aged 46-55, and 14% in the 56-65 range.
The report indicated 58% of the attendees are married, 42% have a four-year college degree, while 38% have a graduate or professional degree. 
45% are Caucasian, 32% Hispanic/Latino. According to the survey, 22% had a reported income of $100,000 to 159,999 while 31% indicated their income was over $160,000. A side note: 50% said they got to Miami-Dade County via air, 4% of those took a private or charter flight.
SOBEWFF wants to lock in their current footprint for five years with its main location in Lummus Park beachfront between 10th and 13th Streets, the North Venue (at beachfront between Lincoln Road and 17th Street), Española Way, and various hotel venues.
Among the public benefits, discounted advance ticket sale opportunities for Miami Beach residents and 1,000 total tickets for the Festival’s family event, Fun and Fit as a Family to be distributed to local schools and after-school programs.
The item is C7 N on the Commission's agenda. Details.
Photo: Felix Mizioznikov /

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