Daytona Beach, FL – It’s that most wonderful time of the year, especially for the local economy.
Bike Week 2019 officially revs up today (March 8th) with a few new things in place for the 78th annual edition of the ten-day motorcycle rally, which wraps up March 17th.
Vice-President Janet Kersey with the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce still expects around 500,000 tourists to come to the area this year, even if it may not seem like attendance has grown as it did in years past.
“We know the event’s impact reaches throughout the region,” Kersey added. “If you take that same amount of people and you spread them out in a much bigger geographic area, it looks like it’s not as impactful as it is. But it’s actually grown in size.”
Her hope is that the event gets even stronger now that the city’s new panhandling ordinance – approved earlier this year – seems to have cleared out many of the signholders, especially in downtown Daytona and the city’s busier intersections.
One of the biggest changes this year is the Chamber’s official Welcome Center. It leaves its familiar digs of Downtown Daytona’s Riverfront Park, setting up instead at One Daytona across from Daytona International Speedway.
Kersey says that was done in part because of the ongoing construction for insurance giant Brown & Brown’s new Beach Street headquarters, which sits across from the grassy area where the Welcome Center has set up in prior years.
Hyatt & Cici Brown – the couple behind Brown & Brown – have pledged $15 million towards a non-profit organization they’ve created which will fund and implement improvements to Riverfront Park.
Many of the vendors who have set up at Riverfront Park in the past have now moved to the Boot Hill Outpost on U.S. 1 in Ormond Beach, which Kersey says should be a good spot for them to continue making money.
“Any festival or event, even Bike Week, all go through a renaissance and a redevelopment as generations age and other generations come in,” Kersey noted.
One of the Chamber’s new wrinkles this year is an increased social media focus targeted towards millennials, including a new Snapchat filter.
Another new thing this year is the involvement of Daytona Stadium, which is now run by DME under lease with the City of Daytona Beach. The stadium – which hasn’t really been a place for Bike Week events in the past – will be hosting bike-themed events throughout the week.
You can also expect more events this year at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand as well as in that city’s downtown and Daytona International Speedway, which will host the Daytona Supercross this weekend. That doesn’t, of course, include the traditional hot spots at Daytona Beach’s Main Street and Ormond Beach’s Destination Daytona.