Something in the Water Benefitted the Entire Region

​​Analysis reveals economic impact for Virginia Beach and surrounding cities.
​​​​SITW crowd shot​​​Results of the economic impact study conducted following the inaugural Something in the Water festival show that the first-year festival actually made money, not only for Virginia Beach, but for every city in the Hampton Roads region – a rare feat for a large-scale, first-time event, particularly one that was planned and executed in just six months. Dr. Vinod Agarwal, a professor of economics at Old Dominion University, and Virginia Beach Economic Analyst Ron Berkebile performed the analysis and presented their findings to the City Council on Tues., Oct. 1. 
Some of the findings included:
  • Tickets went on sale March 8. The 25,000 available tickets sold out in 21 minutes. The capacity was increased by an additional 10,000 tickets and those sold out March 27 — one month ahead of the festival.
  • The average per person expenditure was $294 (not including ticket sales) – $104 on lodging, $67 on food, $65 on entertainment and $57 on “other.”
  • Despite main stage performances being canceled on the first day of the event due to inclement weather (ticket purchasers were refunded 33% of their ticket price), attendees rated SITW very positively. An immediate, post-festival text poll received more than 1,600 responses. Attendees were asked to rate the festival on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “a waste of money” and 10 being “awesome.” Eighty percent ranked the festival a “10” and close to 95% rated it an “8” or higher.
  • Nearly all respondents said they were likely to return if the festival is held in 2020 – 87% said they were “extremely likely” and 10% said they were “quite likely.” 
  • The hotel occupancy rate for the event was about 90% or higher throughout the entire city and hovered between 94 and 96% in the Resort Area. 
  • Hotel occupancy was 86% or higher throughout all of Hampton Roads, including Williamsburg, with the average for the region sitting at more than 90%. Hotel revenue in Virginia Beach was $2.2 million and for all of Hampton Roads it was $4.85 million.
  • The City’s expenditures for SITW totaled approximately $1.1 million. Historically, expenditures for “College Beach Weekend” were about $259,139. So, the net cost for SITW was $851,376. The City received tax revenue of $1.19 million, which means the City made a profit in the first year, which is unusual. 
  • The economic impact of both Virginia Beach-based and visitor ticket holders was $21.76 million, and the resulting tax revenue was $1.19 million. The total economic impact on Hampton Roads was $24.11 million.


  • The average age of respondents was 28.5 years. The largest age group, at about 41%, was 25 to 34-year-olds.
  • About 61% of respondents identify as African American, nearly 20% identify as white, almost 9% as Hispanic, just over 4% as Asian and about 6% identify as “other.”
  • Nearly 66% of respondents were female, and almost 34% were male. Half of a percent identified as “other.”
  • About 23% of festival goers indicated they are from Virginia Beach, almost 34% said they were coming from other Hampton Roads cities and about 43% were out-of-area residents.

To view the full presentation of the economic analysis, view below or visit the City’s YouTube channel at​. Information about SITW 2020 will be shared on the festival website,​.

Oct. 1, 2019 Informal City Council Meeting

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