Hospitality businesses in Tamworth have enjoyed a better-than-expected summer, as tourism booms and events keep the economy ticking over.

When the Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) was cancelled in September last year, many publicans expected it be a significant blow to its summer trading, with the Festival bringing in large numbers of people into the town and making up a significant portion of each venue’s annual revenue.

Speaking to Australian Hotelier, Craig Power, group manager of The Pub Group, said that his pubs have done “surprisingly well” over the summer, despite TCMF’s cancellation. With no cases of COVID in Tamworth for several months, Power and his team decided to host live music acts in their four hotels throughout the summer – albeit at a much smaller scale than usual.

“We normally host about 250 acts across the four pubs  during Festival season, but we brought it down to 20 acts in two venues, with 10 acts held during the week when the Festival would have taken place.”

The majority of these events were ticketed, and every single ticketed event sold out.

“And the two venues that didn’t do any events at all, they saw full crowds every weekend and good patronage throughout the week, even without entertainment. So it was a really interesting January for us,” stated Power.

Tourism and events

Even without TCMF, tourism has boomed in Tamworth over the last few months. Power says that tourists still made up the overwhelming majority of ticket sales to their live music shows, buying between 80-90 per cent of all the tickets available.

“There’s definitely a lot of tourists in town. What we’ve found during COVID  is that without people being able to travel, or comfortably travel outside of the state or country, visitation has gone up quite a bit. On any given week our car parks are filled with caravans, and people just wanting to experience country areas instead of going up the east coast.”

Other events throughout the year are also bolstering the town’s hospitality scene. This week the Nutrien Classie – the largest stock horse and campdraft event in the Southern Hemisphere – will see another 3000-5000 people visit Tamworth. The Pub Group’s Longyard Hotel is the closest pub to the Equine Centre, and is expected to do a roaring trade throughout the week.

“We get really good patronage off these guys, as do a lot of other venues in town.”

Tamworth has also hosted training camps for three different NRL teams of late. The Auckland Warriors made Tamworth it’s home base for a month at the beginning of the season, while the Newcastle Knights recently spent a week in the town. The West Tigers arrive on Sunday for a week as well. All three teams have or are expected to patronise venues and businesses throughout the town during their stays.

“They’re all added bonuses for the town. It’s a boost for all of us.”

All in all, Power says the regional centre’s economy is travelling along nicely, and its instilling a lot of confidence throughout the region’s business community.

“There’s a good feeling in Tamworth that the economy is going really well. Construction is up, and all of our industries are going really strong. We’re also coming off the back of a massive agricultural season where they’ve seen one of the biggest grain seasons in many years. The whole town just hasn’t missed a beat really since we’ve come out of those initial severe restrictions early last year.”

Image: (Facebook/The Pub Tamworth)

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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