People's Domain

Dinagyang Digital’s triumphant show a boon to local economy

Dinagyang Digital’s triumphant show in Iloilo City stymied murmurs of disapproval of its staging because of the pandemic. The effort-intensive experimentation exceeded public expectation and the creative work that propelled innovation for a digital presentation earned a rightful applaud.

Dinagyang Digital 2021 earned a patina of prestige from technical people, tourism officers from different local governments, festival organizers, and among global citizens. The pre-filmed Dinagyang tribes performance showed that Coronavirus does not preclude the spirit of organizing a festival. It also highlighted that local festivals are not badly stuck in the pandemic mud.

Successful as it may have appeared though, the 2021 Dinagyang Digital’s triumphant show was pulled off with an estimated one fifth slice of its usual budget. The conventional Dinagyang Festival organizing demands at least P50-million and the pandemic have made that figure quite a feat to raise for Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI).

However, the holding of the digital Dinagyang was a significant morale booster to local economy considering the heavy blow that the pandemic have caused on the city’s festival tourism sector last year. Some feedbacks from key community leaders have revealed the interplay of monetary and non-monetary value derived from a pandemic-aligned Dinagyang Festival programming.

The Dinagyang digital crystallized the future of festivals, but economic value is difficult to measure. The Dinagyang have showed how the pandemic have brought festivals to a digital era. And since it is filmed, we can only imagine how fast it will evolve at each and every episode. The Dinagyang will for sure become a product of constant innovation for as long as the pandemic persist on.

While festivals serve as a means to revitalize the economy; interestingly, the economic value that can be derived from a pandemic-era festival like the recent Dinagyang is a challenge.

To illustrate this point, the pre-pandemic Dinagyang Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of tourist and visitors to Iloilo City. Tourist receipts are in billions of pesos. The more than 5,000 hotel rooms that are usually fully booked days before weekend highlight can help show its economic value, not to mention the party spending and other peripheral expenses by travelers and tourists.

Dinagyang Digitals triumphant show

Read related topic: Iloilo Dinagyang Digital Festival made Ilonggos proud 

For this year, however, Dinagyang Digital did not earn the same level of budget allocation unlike what the conventional Dinagyang accepts from the contributions of the local government, provincial government, regional offices of national government agencies, and the private sector, which may include sponsorships.

It was not a different Dinagyang for no reason. The current condition demanded for its rearrangement. By far, the budget was commensurate on the required expenses, but sooner than later, organizers of similar events will be able to measure its monetary contribution to local economy.

Dinagyang is still a boon to local economy, because monetary impact is not overnight. Reviving festival tourism and the local economy, however, is not solely dependent on monetary infusion. It also requires non-monetary input and social capital, and Dinagyang Digital’s triumphant show have demonstrated that.

The success of Dinagyang Digital shows that Ilonggos always take problems such as COVID-19 as opportunities,” shared Francis E. Gentoral, executive director of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc. (ILEDF). Gentoral emphasized a good point when he said that the ability to think and act creatively is one important human quality that investors look into in an area. Iloilo never failed to show these qualities to investors.

The Dinagyang digital also provides platform to reach a bigger and wider market for Iloilo’s industries. We need to take advantage of the Dinagyang digital dividends, Gentoral said.

On the other hand, Lea Lara, the executive director of the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) also pointed out the difficulty to measure economic value at this time. It was easier to measure before by way of indicators like tourist spending, occupancy rate of hotels and accommodations, or even foot traffic, she said.

Yet Lara butted a good point when she shared that this year’s Dinagyang is a business case on how festivals can transition. Its economic value may also manifest even on netizens’ comments that they are interested to visit Iloilo.

Previously on Misreadings at IMTNews: Dinagyang Festival 2021 and the business of crowds 

Lawyer and business leader Jobert Peñaflorida, president of IFFI, somehow summarized a host of benefits derived from Dinagyang Digital 2021. He said, the festival has a significant impact to the Ilonggos, not only in terms of economics, but more importantly, in terms of providing a renewed sense of optimism.

Despite the pandemic, the festival offered a reason to be hopeful, said by the person of the hour.

Dinagyang Digital’s economic value can also be gleaned on the livelihood activities that it facilitated to many struggling artists who have been out of projects for the last 10-months. It has likewise given jobs to videographers, writers, event organizers and many other volunteers, he pointed out.

Morever, Peñaflorida expounded that the Dinagyang trade fairs have provided a venue for our micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) to showcase their products and to earn some minimal income. Same goes to aspiring entrepreneurs who were able to sell their food and other delicacies.

To a limited extent, it has encouraged some economic activities with the support of government agencies like the Dept. of Trade and Industry, Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Provincial and City Governments, he added.

Mounting the Dinagyang Digital 2021 festival with so many challenges and restrictions brought out the best in the Ilonggo spirit, said Peñaflorida.

Indeed, measuring the economic value of the triumphant Dinagyang Digital 2021 could not be oversimplified by way of instant monetary returns. Festivals, digital or otherwise, offers an encompassing impact with its monetary and non-monetary value combined.

Its impact can be described this way: 1.) Economic – by way of jobs provision and livelihood; 2.) Tourism – it increased awareness about Iloilo even in the period of the pandemic; 3.) Social and cultural – it strengthened local values and tradition; and 4.) Psychological – it increased local pride and community spirit – the pride of place.

The multiple impact delivered by Dinagyang Digital 2021 may not be as pronounced to the naked eye, but all four impacts put together is a boon to the local economy. 

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