As in past years, most — 64 percent — of the 9,500 who attended were from San Luis Obispo County. Twenty-two percent from were Southern California and the Bay Area, 5 percent from the Central Valley and an additional 5.4 percent from 22 other states and Australia, according to an event overview released Friday.
Organizers have long hoped to attract at least 60 percent outside visitors, but that remains a challenge.
The event also attracted 10.3 percent fewer guests than the year before, reflecting a restructuring of the various events offered, organizers said. They dropped the 5K and 10K runs introduced in 2013, for example, because the market was already saturated with such runs.
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Highlights of the four-day culinary and wine event include a kickoff evening reception at Hearst Castle, adventure tours highlighting the region’s eco-tourism, food and wine, and the Main Event food and wine tasting and seminars at Santa Margarita Ranch that featured 121 exhibitors, including 46 wineries.
Total spending by attendees last September was $819,000, generating an economic impact of $1.15 million, down 5 percent from $1.21 million in 2013. Total estimated local sales tax generated was $73,106, up 3 percent.
As in previous years, about 60 percent of those attending have an average household income over $100,000, 56 percent of attendees were between 45 and 64 years old and 33 percent were between 25 and 44 years old.
Despite the slightly lower economic impact, Savor remains a success, generating tourism dollars, organizers noted.
And although it did not break even, it came a lot closer, with Visit SLO County making up the shortfall of $76,186 — far less than the $136,080 it made up in 2013, according to Stacie Jacob, chief executive officer of Visit SLO County.
Savor also won the award for “Outstanding Food Event” at the sixth annual Taste Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday, competing with other prestigious events nationwide in such cities as New York and Las Vegas.
“When we created the event five years ago, we wanted to create a truly immersive wine and food experience that stood apart, but we never dreamed that in just a few years we’d become one of the nation’s signature food and wine events,” Jacob said in a news release.
This year’s Savor will be held Sept. 24-27. It’s too soon to say exactly what changes will be made, Jacob said, but they will include creating unique features for Sunday at the Main Event, as well as focusing marketing efforts in key drive markets.