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Posted on: 11 September, 2019

Council puts focus on events and festivals strategy

The Whitsunday Region Major Festivals and Events Attraction Strategy: 2019-2023 was adopted by Council at today’s ordinary meeting in Bowen.

The strategy was developed in consultation with industry stakeholders and signals Whitsunday Regional Council’s commitment to further develop the region’s festival and events program by outlining a vision, strategic priorities, goals and actions.

Mayor Andrew Willcox said festivals and events play a key role in fostering regional tourism and economic development.

“Tourism already contributes $524 million to the Whitsunday Region economy and accounts for approximately 40% of all jobs so it is important to leverage every opportunity to create further growth.

“Council has always been supportive of events and festivals and recognises the role they play in showcasing the region to potential visitors.

“Events and festivals not only attract visitors, spectators and participants but also boost spending within region which stimulates growth and creates more jobs for locals,” he said.

“It is no secret the Whitsundays loves to party so if we can grow current events and festivals and attract new ones then our whole community benefits.”

Executive Officer Economic Development Melanie Davies said the new strategy also seeks to increase the profile and capacity of the Whitsundays.

“By identifying the types of major events that maximise the essence of the Whitsundays both now and in the future, the strategy can deliver powerful outcomes for the region.

“The strategy allows us to place an emphasis on spreading the events throughout the calendar year to maximise the benefits to the region.

“It also provides a framework for Council to determine funding and other assistance to events, based on a clear set of objectives and criteria, and includes a five-year action plan,” she said.

“This strategy now allows Council to assist in attracting existing festivals and events that have the potential to be relocated to the Whitsunday Region.

“By taking advantage of the region’s unique attributes, we can offer event organisers an attractive and viable location for future ventures.

The strategy further outlines a five-year action plan with clear deliverables and timings, across five areas of strategic priorities being event support, event funding, event development, event marketing and event measurement.

A Major Festival & Event Support Policy has been drafted to manage the framework for the allocation of the event funding.

This policy outlines that funding and support allocation is awarded under the three categories;

a) Grow and Extend (Tier 1) Existing events that have a demonstrated ability for generating high levels of attendance and visitation. These events typically are already viewed as being successful, and Council’s support is intended to support extended reach (either by extending the length of the event or adding an additional element to grow and extend, allowing the events to reach greater levels of success, sustainability and contribution to the visitor economy.

b) Develop (Tier 2) Existing events that may be newer additions to the event calendar or have typically been viewed as more locally / regional inclusive, but have the capacity, with support, to develop into larger events that appeal to a wider audience and attract a higher level of visitation, stay and spend from outside the region.

c) New (Tier 3) New events encompass those that may be either newly conceived ‘first time’ events, or existing, successful, out of region events that display the potential for relocation or replication. Regardless of status, new events must demonstrate the potential for fulfilling an identified market gap, capitalise on the uniqueness of the region, or leverage an existing event to increase and/or extend visitation, stay and spend.

Council’s support for each event will be decided via an application process, measuring against the aims and objectives of this policy.

Successful applicants will also need to: a) demonstrate the future growth and sustainability of the event; b) demonstrate their support of local operators through the procurement of local goods and services; and c) provide a detailed acquittal to Council within 90 days of the event.

Event support may be provided as financial, in-kind, other support (such as marketing) or a combination of those and will be provided via written agreement.

Funding will be contestable, and subject to budget allocation per financial year, with each funding request will be assessed individually

The Whitsunday Region Major Festival and Events Strategy 2019-2023 was funded by the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and Council. $300,000 will be contributed by Council to support the implementation of the Strategy in the 2019/20 financial year.

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