Anime convention a boon to Seattle economy


by By / KING 5 News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:34 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 25 at 1:31 PM

Video: Anime convention to pump millions into local economy

SEATTLE - It's a shot in the arm for the Seattle economy: Thousands of people are descending on downtown this weekend for Sakura-Con.

The Japanese anime convention is expected to pump $13 million into the local economy over the weekend.

Convention bookings across the country are down and Seattle has had some big cancellations, but the Washington Convention and Trade bookings are still up about 25 percent over last year.

"We're actually expecting record attendance this spring," said David Blandford, spokesperson for the Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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The bureau has seen a lot of attendance records broken at many of their conventions, including Sakura-Con, which features anime and traditional Japanese cultural events.

Event organizers thought the economy might hurt attendance, but their pre-registrations have more than doubled.

"Well, now we have people from all over the world coming here," said Sakura-Con President Michael Stark.

The event runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- around-the-clock. Up to 20,000 people are expected each of the three days.

It will be hard not to notice they're here. Thousands of attendees will be on the streets dressed up as their favorite anime characters.

"At Cheesecake Factory you may see someone dressed up in a full kimono and a boy in a sort of demon-wolf outfit," said Stark.

And whether you're an anime fan or not, you have to love the economic impact.

"They use about eight hotels and about half of the attendees coming in are from out of town," Stark said. "The economic impact is roughly $13 million."

Sakura-Con runs Friday through Sunday.