Mixed fortunes for traders as Fun4Kids Festival not a winter windfall for all businesses

Noah Johnson, 8, from Melbourne, meets up with Austswim mascots Pip and Pete at Fun4Kids.
Noah Johnson, 8, from Melbourne, meets up with Austswim mascots Pip and Pete at Fun4Kids.

WARRNAMBOOL hospitality venues that target families enjoyed a boost in business during last week’s Fun4Kids Festival but the result was not across the board.

Most Warrnambool hospitality operators contacted by The Standard said Fun4Kids was continuing to generate good trade during what had been a quiet time for business prior to the festival.

Their comments follow those by a handful of Warrnambool businesses last week, including a jeweller and a clothing store, that said the festival was not generating any more sales for them.

Warrnambool City Council’s tourism services manager Peter Abbott said tourism operators and other businesses should remember how quiet the winter school holidays were in Warrnambool prior to the festival. 

Mr Abbott said all 23 cabins at the council’s Surfside caravan park were booked out last week during the festival.

“This week we are scratching for bookings,” Mr Abbott said.

Warrnambool Holiday Village co-owner Jeremy Alexander said bookings at the Henna Street holiday centre were up on the weeks prior to the festival.

“Some of the bookings were directly related to the festival, others were more work-related,” Mr Alexander said.

However, Warrnambool Holiday Park owner Steve Moore said there had been no increase in bookings at his Simpson Street business last week.

“Other years it has been good to us,” Mr Moore said.

He suggested festival attendance numbers could be boosted if the festival’s timing was changed to the second week of the Victorian school holidays to coincide with the first week of the South Australian school holidays.

Marketing should start earlier with festival posters displayed at Christmas time in caravan parks and other visitor accommodation places, Mr Moore said.

Images restaurant owner Jonathan Dodwell said Fun4Kids had lifted his trade this year but not as much as in previous years.

“Generally Fun4Kids has a positive effect,” he said.

“It’s a good thing to have.

“I spoke to a lot of families who said they were only coming for the day and were not staying overnight.” 

Mr Dodwell said his restaurants on Liebig Street and at the City Memorial Bowls Club on Cramer Street both offered special deals for children during the festival to attract customers.

Fishtales cafe proprietor Tamara Mahoney said the festival was good for business.

“Anything that brings that amount of people into town while in the middle of winter is great,” she said.

However, Wines Patisserie spokesman Frank Wines said there had been no lift in the takings at the Timor Street business during last week.

“There never has been. We have been here for three years,” Mr Wines said.

Tony Smith, the co-owner of Pinky’s Pizza on Liebig Street, said its sales had increased last week as they did during every school holidays.