BATHURST’S pubs and eateries were the big winners out of the Bathurst Winter Festival, Bathurst Business Chamber vice president Steve Semmens says.
The third annual festival wound up on Sunday and during its 16 days attracted tens of thousands of people to the central business district.
More than 45,000 tickets were sold for the ice rink, ferris wheel and carousel, with many people staying on to grab a meal or a snack in the CBD.
Mr Semmens said the Bathurst Regional Council run festival exceeded his expectations and it had a significant flow-on impact for businesses.
“I think the eateries and pubs were the winners,” he said.
Mr Semmes said the two street party nights (held on July 1 and 8), which attracted an estimated 22,000 people to the CBD, were a particular winner for eateries.
Winter is traditionally a quiet time in the CBD with a lack of visitors and locals choosing to stay home rather than go out for a meal, Knickerbocker Hotel Scott Macallister said.
But all that has changed, he said, with the annual festival bringing a much-needed boost to businesses.
“This year has been the best result so far, we had more business during the week” Mr Macallister said.
“The last couple of years it was mainly just the Saturday night [that it was busy].
“We had groups of people coming up from Sydney and around the country.”
Machattie Park’s inclusion in the festival was a welcome boost for The George Hotel, owner Matt Harrowsmith said.
“I couldn’t believe the amount of people. I definitely noticed the increase,” he said. “It’s great for business and it’s bringing people into town.”
Mr Harrowsmith agreed that this year’s festival was the best one so far.
“There were heaps more people in town for it,” he said.
“They’re coming from everywhere for the festival.”
Trade does drop off in winter, compared to summer, Mr Harrowsmith said and he praised council for its foresight in creating the event.
“To have something on in the depths of winter is definitely a benefit,” he said.
“It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
Mr Semmens said the 2017 festival had produced a fantastic result for tourism for the city.
“I can’t wait to see what they [council] come up with next year,” he said.
Mayor Graeme Hanger said the events team was already looking for inspiration and ways to grow the festival into the future.
“The Bathurst Winter Festival has its own unique identity to attract residents and visitors to our city and surrounding regions to experience the best of what we offer,” he said.
“The Bathurst Winter Festival is already a ‘must see’ event for most people in our community and surrounding regions.”