Festivals to play tourist magnet for decades
VIBRANT festivals have been one of the major magnets attracting tourists to the region for decades, and it’s hoped the trend will continue long into the future.
Woodford Folk Festival founder and director Bill Hauritz said there were generally two brackets of festival — the stayers and the fashionable ones.
Mr Hauritz said the fashionable ones tended to come and go.
“Festivals are difficult things to do,” he said.
“We’ve had to learn how to do it.”
This year’s event will be the 34th edition.
“Many think it’s easy, start big and inevitably fail,” Mr Hauritz said.
“There are festivals well funded by government, and they seem to do pretty well, up until the funding stops.”
He said it was the “stayers”, which started small and grew organically, which stood the test of time.
Festivals like the Noosa Triathlon, Gympie Muster and his own festival, were some that came to mind when Mr Hauritz thought about local stayers.
He said it was vital that there was a deeper passion underpinning a festival, not just a desire to drag tourists into a region.
“They (pure numbers-focused festivals) don’t seem to play the long game,” he said.
Mr Hauritz expected there would probably always be both types of festivals in the future, but he said it was important that more festivals became established, long-term events.
“We need more great festivals,” he said.
“Festivals should take people away from their everyday life. That’s what they’re for, whatever it (festival) is.”
He said festivals running longer than a day started to enhance the experience of the festivalgoer, as they became more invested in the event.
“We’d always like to think that it’s (Woodford) better every year, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be bigger,” Mr Hauritz said.
“Other festivals are not our enemy, they’re our compatriots. Our enemy is the TV set.
“Anything that gets people out and doing things … is great.”
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said events like the Caloundra Music Festival, Woodford, Big Pineapple Music Festival and Gympie Music Muster were an “incredibly important part of the tourism mix”.
“They appeal to a different demographic of traveller, encourage visitation from key intra and interstate markets and provide a welcome boost to the local economy,” he said.
He said multiple day festivals encouraged accommodation bookings, and boosted local businesses.
Mr Latchford said evolution was “key” for staying ahead and keeping up with customer demand, and the same could be applied to events.
“Continuing to evolve and develop our hero music events and festivals will encourage return visitation and entice new markets to visit the region,” he said.
“By furthering the Sunshine Coast’s reputation as an events destination, we can look to attract and secure an appropriate range of events that will have long-term benefits for the region.”