Broadway boosts local economy

Last season contributed $5.1 billion to city

The 2006-07 Broadway season contributed $5.1 billion to the Gotham economy, according to the Broadway League’s biennial report on the Rialto’s overall economic impact.

Figure is up slightly from the org’s 2006 study, which pegged the cumulative fiscal effects of the 2004-05 season at $5.09 billion.

Tally reps sums paid out by producers and theater owners as well as ancillary spending — hotel, restaurant and transportation costs, for instance — by visitors who reported seeing a Broadway show as their primary reason for visiting New York. Total also figures in the indirect after-effects of this spending as it circulates through the economy.

Unsurprising to any legiter who has heard producers bemoan skyrocketing costs, show expenditures (including labor, advertising and theater rent) rose from $794 million in the 2004-05 season to $905 million (a figure that shoots up to $1.98 billion when indirect spending is incorporated).

However, direct visitor spending was actually down, slipping to $2.13 billion from $2.22 billion in the 2004-05 season. (Indirect ripple effects add $963 million to the most recent tally.)

That dip is unexpected, since Gotham tourism in general has been on the upswing for the last few years. The report, which considers only money spent by Broadway-motivated tourists, attributes the discrepancy to the fact that the influx of visitors means a wider variety of primary reasons for a trip — shopping, for instance, for international travelers looking to take advantage of the recent weakening of the dollar.

According to the report, the estimated $2.13 billion in visitor spending reps 39% of the total ancillary spending of all visiting Broadway theatergoers, including those for whom the Rialto was not the primary reason for traveling.

In general, tourist biz accounted for 65% of the 12.3 million ducats bought during the 2006-07 season, the highest percentage in two decades, according to the league. Visitors bought some 60% of tickets in 2004-05.

Gothamites, not including residents of area suburbs, picked up 16.5% of those 12.3 million tickets.

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