As 7,500 begin to rise above their Corona SunSets hangovers many will back it up in Wollongong again this weekend for the famed Santa Claus Pub Crawl.
More and more the region is seeing increased visitation for large-scale events such as these, but does it really help or hinder other hospitality trade?
Co-owners of three small city bars – Dagwood; Howlin’ Wolf and the recently opened Births and Deaths – said business generally slows during a festival but believed the benefits far outweighed the negatives.
Ben Abraham and Luke Symons said their venues saw an influx of people (especially visitors to the area) on the Friday night before the SunSets festival. Though trade was significantly down as their usual clientele were at the festival on Saturday and then recovering on Sunday.
They did believe, however, cafe’s would have seen an influx of people ordering bacon and eggs or the like to soothe resulting hangovers.
The pair said this phenomena was the same for other big festivals like MTV Beats and Eats and the annual Yours and Owls – but the benefit was attracting new people to the region and their establishments.
“They’re bringing people down who normally wouldn’t,” Mr Symons said. “If you stop pushing events like this then people will stop seeing Wollongong as a cultural hub.”
He said the Santa Pub Crawl was different in it would always bring more people into establishments, as patrons roamed the city hopping from venue to venue, but was similar all the same
“It’s not about every dollar grab as a bar, it’s about building Wollongong as a destination,” Mr Symons said.
“We always look at a percentage ratio,” Mr Abraham added. “Like 10,000 people are in town for [the Santa Claus Pub Crawl], even if we get 0.01 per cent that’s all the people that we need.”
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth agreed landmark music festivals not only injected more money into the economy during the event but were also a tourism booster.
“We’re really excited for the local businesses who benefit from the additional visitation to the region,” Mr Zarth said. “The Illawarra is really punching above its weight across the state and the nation.
“The other day I was told we’re really putting the North Coast under pressure in terms of competition for … festivals and the like.”