TAMPA — For organizers of the International Indian Film Academy Awards, a Tuesday stop at the Tampa Theatre was the second leg of a three-city media tour with Bollywood stars Priyanka Chopra and Anil Kapoor.
But to hear local officials talk, it was more like a victory lap.
"When we had the great fortune of meeting the IIFA about eight months ago, and they made us understand not what Tampa could do for IIFA, but what IIFA could do for Tampa, it was love at first sight," said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County's nonprofit tourism agency.
It wasn't just the 30,000 to 50,000 visitors or estimated economic impact of $24 million to $30 million, he said.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn joked that the IIFA weekend could outshine last year's Republican National Convention.
"When we hosted that Republican National Convention, if you had asked me what would be more fun: to hang out with Mitt Romney or Chris Christie — or Priyanka? I'm just saying," he said.
IIFA moves the awards show every year, and 10 different countries have hosted it. It's making its first appearance in the United States this time.
Chopra, a former Miss World, admitted she's been partial to Miami, where she filmed the 2008 film Dostana and the video of her 2013 single Exotic featuring rapper Pitbull.
But said she thinks Tampa can more than hold its own.
"Tampa is competing with the world right now — and won."