Amelia Island Tourism & Development
January 7, 2022
Research shows holiday event was a hit for area businesses, vendors and attendees
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2022) – The 7th Annual Dickens on Centre Victorian Christmas Festival supported a record-setting estimated economic impact of more than $4.7 million from off-island visitors (overnight guests and day-trippers), which is a $1.2 million increase over the pre-pandemic 2019 event. The popular annual festival drew an estimated attendance of 18,000, with research showing Overall Experience ratings at or near 100% among residents (96.5%), day-trippers (100%), and overnight visitors (96%), and strong support among participating local merchants and event vendors. One of Amelia Island’s signature annual events and a community favorite, the award-winning Dickens on Centre is free to the public and was held Dec. 9-12 in downtown Fernandina Beach. This year’s event was attended by a mix of overnight visitors (31.3%), day-trippers (33.1%) and local Amelia Island residents (35.6%).
“We’re happy to have created an annual event that enjoys such broad community support and generates this kind of positive financial return, but that also provides a festive atmosphere for locals and visitors to make cherished holiday memories,” said Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). “The research shows a steady growth in the economic benefit of Dickens on Centre, from $2.7 million in 2017 to now more than $4.7 million, and internal surveys showed a high level of satisfaction among merchants, vendors and everyone involved as well.”
According to Langley, the CVB regularly conducts economic impact studies to better analyze and optimize events for positive contributions to the community. This year, surveyed tourism partners such as restaurants and shops gave Dickens on Centre and its impact on their business an average 4.45 (out of 5). Compared to the 2019 event, 50% of these businesses increased their staffing, 77% saw in increase in customer traffic, and 68% reported higher sales.
“The success of Dickens on Centre over the last few years has made the second weekend in December a popular date for travel for our island and our hotel,” said Robert Martyn, general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites. “Guests were excited for the return of the event and the new additions this year. We saw big demand in 2021 from guests who booked early, and many are already planning to rebook for 2022.”
Each year, several street vendors, including many local businesses, add to the festival atmosphere, selling a variety of food, drinks and merchandise from booths throughout downtown Fernandina Beach. Surveyed vendors gave the festival a 4.75 rating (out of 5), and nearly half (46%) of returning vendors reported improved sales over the 2019 event.
Festival attendees rated the event 4.71 (out of 5), with 100% expressing interest in returning next year. Other aspects of the 2021 Dickens event that were analyzed included the “Run Like the Dickens!” family fun run, which drew more than 100 runners and had an average 4.78 rating; the adults-only “Dickens After Dark” experience, with a 4.07 average rating; and the new Enchanted Village, with an average 4.09 rating.
Dickens on Centre is the centerpiece of Amelia Island’s many traditional holiday events, which together are part of the CVB’s marketing strategy to support local tourism during shoulder seasons. The event has been honored with multiple marketing awards, including a Henry Award at the VISIT FLORIDA Flagler Awards, and a Silver Award at the HSMAI Adrian Awards.
For more information on seasonal events and ongoing activities on Amelia Island, visit AmeliaIsland.com/Calendar.
About Amelia Island
Northeast Florida’s coastal treasure, Amelia Island is a barrier island rich in colorful history and breath-taking natural beauty. Amelia Island offers long, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife, and pristine waters. Upscale resorts with world-class spas, championship golf and exclusive dining blend effortlessly with a captivating collection of bed and breakfast inns and historic districts. The island is home to Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant Victorian seaport village, and now a charming downtown district of eclectic shops, attractions and eateries. Forget the everyday getaway; come make memories on Amelia Island. For visitor information and online planning, visit