DESPITE thousands of visitors flocking to enjoy Warrnambool’s acclaimed Fun4Kids Festival, at least three Liebig Street businesses have closed for the week claiming the event didn’t bring them trading benefits.
Although the eight-day event is estimated to generate about $3.7million in gross expenditure for the region, some sectors of the business community say it is a dead week for them.
On the other side of the ledger accommodation and some food outlets are booming and festival spending is expected to filter through the community.
Brian Kelson of Gateway Jewellers in Liebig Street said he decided to close until today to undertake shop remodelling because “it’s become the worst week of the year for trading”.
“I’ve spoken to other traders who feel the same way.”
Nonna Casalinga restaurant proprietor Chris Considine closed for the week so he and staff could take holidays while Pickled Pig proprietor Brenton Banner closed to undertake remodelling before reopening tonight.
Commerce Warrnambool vice-president Max Taylor who operates the Surfodesy shop said he had chalked the festival week on his calendar as a trading low point.
“However, overall the festival does bring money into the city and business operators will get the benefits later on.”
Hairdresser Sue Cassidy also reported quieter trade at the northern end of Liebig Street this week.
Bojangles restaurant operator Greg Kelly said he and other food outlets offering takeaway and budget-priced meals benefited from the festival influx.
Warrnambool Tourism Association secretary Diane Parker said the festival was vital to Warrnambool’s economy.
“We’d die without the festival because it brings so many people into town this time of year,” she said.
“I’ve heard other centres would grab the event if we were so foolish to give it up.”
City council community development director Vicky Mason said critics failed to understand the wider benefits generated by the festival which takes about $500,000 a year from the council budget.
“It’s a great return on investment,” she said.
“A survey of last year’s festival patrons showed their average individual expenditure was $1042,” she said.
“The total direct expenditure was calculated at $1.949m plus multiplier benefits of almost another million dollars.
“Of the 22,219 attendances, 14,219 came from more than an hour from Warrnambool.”
Ms Mason urged more local business operators to use the festival for marketing.
“I’m amazed at how many don’t promote themselves for festival patrons — we would be happy to assist,” she said.