The 24th Annual Byron Bay Bluesfest capped another huge year after the dust had settled on the Easter Weekend music festival. Earlier in the year, festival director Peter Noble said the 2013 edition reached “capacity crowds” of 17,000 per day for its enormous star-studded lineup; bringing the total attendance rate to 85,000 topping records from previous years and making the award-winning event one of Australia’s biggest music festivals.

With such an enormous audience swarming on the Tyagarah Tea Farm site, its only logical that with such big numbers come bigs buck, and a new report from Bluesfest organisers shows that the 2013 event was not only a big success for musicians, fans, and organisers, but a huge boom to Byron Bay’s local economy.

An Economic Impact report issued by Bluesfest 2013, and undertaken by Lawrence Consulting, demonstrates the enormous spending power and tourism benefits of the music festival, marking a huge financial win for the Byron Shire, the Norther Rivers region, and the state of New South Wales as a whole. The event making up for approximately 2.1% of the shire’s total Gross Regional Product (GRP).

“We knew 2013 was a huge year but it was still great to see a boost in both employment positions and income and an increase in our overall contribution to Gross Regional Product from 2011, which was also a bumper year for us,” says Festival Director Peter Noble.

Conducting surveys on local businesses during the festival, held from Thursday 28th March to Monday 1st April 2013 last April, found the festival drew $21.4 million in tourism expenditure (such as accommodation, retail, food and drink) to the Byron Shire, while Norther Rivers benefited from a $28.5m boost and generating $47.3m for NSW as a whole. Bluesfest marked a huge financial win for the Byron Shire, the Norther Rivers region, and the state of New South Wales as a whole. The event making up for approximately 2.1% of the shire’s total [economy].

Survey results also showed that over 51% of attendees were from interstate, while 19% hailed from local regions, 5% from international waters, and the remaining 25% from other locations. Bluesfest 2013 also generated huge employment opportunities, creating approximately 379.3 full-time employment positions (FTE) in Byron Shire, 515.9 FTE’s in the Northern Rivers, and 831.4 FTE’s in New South Wales.

This includes employment for Bluesfest Touring’s many sideshows for its touring acts such as Robert Plant, Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson, Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, Paul Simon, Jimmy Cliff, and more in over 120 additional Bluesfest sideshows, which drew attendees totalling 93,698.

Bluesfest’s Economic Impact Report arrives just after the Griffith University and the Northern Star paper conducted a local business confidence poll, highlighting the importance of the annual music festival to the region and that public sentiment towards the event is equally positive.

The Northern Star report showing that 53% showed a positive outlook on business with only 18% negative, with the study’s Professor Michael Powell saying that “all respondents thought the hosting of more cultural and musical events, such as the Byron Bay Bluesfest, would have a positive impact on businesses in the region.” “It was still great to see a boost in both employment positions and income and an increase in our overall contribution to Gross Regional Product from 2011, which was also a bumper year for us.” – Peter Noble, Bluesfest

“The region is certainly building its profile as a destination for musical events and other creative pursuits and major festivals such as the Bluesfest are clearly playing significant and positive roles,” said Professor Powell.

Splendour In The Grass is another event that is likely to benefit the Byron region, moving into its new 660-acre Yelgun parkland site for its 2013 edition, the sold-out winter music festival is gearing up for more events at its new permanent home after securing a five-year trial period form local council, as TheMusic pointed out.

“There has always been very strong support for cultural celebrations in the Byron shire,” said Mat Morris, the General Manager for North Byron Parklands site, saying that the trial period allowed for three events over five years, “that’s what we are running with,” confirmed Morris; the fist of course being the 77-band strong Splendour In The Grass 2013, but may not be the only cultural event held at the site in the near future.

Meanwhile, Bluesfest organisers are likely to significantly aid local economy once more, with the announcement of Boomerang Festival, a newly launched event celebrating Indigenous music, arts, and culture.

Set to be held at the same venue as Bluesfest, Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, from the 4th-6th of October this year, with Christine Anu, Troy Cassar Daly, Frank Yamma, Moana Moaniapato, Casey Donovan, Breabach, Digging Roots, and Arnhem Land’s The Chooky Dancers already locked in for the lineup, Boomerang is touted to be more than a music festival, with a multicultural aspect curated by Festival director Rhonda Roberts.

Roberts will work in collaboration with Bluesfest’s Peter Noble, saying ”hosting a significant cultural event on the Bluesfest site which is actually Bundjalung country not only makes sense, but makes me proud.”

Next year’s Bluesfest marks the festival’s 25th Anniversary and will be held from 17th – 21st April 2014.

A SNAPSHOT OF THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BLUESFEST 2013:

  • A total output of $64.1 million in Byron Shire, $84.2 million in the Northern Rivers and $150.6 million in New South Wales 2012/13
  • Estimated total income (wages and salaries) of $10.8 million in Byron Shire, $15.0 million in the Northern Rivers and $32.8 million in New South Wales in 2012/13
  • Approximately 379.3 full time equivalent (FTE) employment positions in Byron Shire, 515.9 FTE’s in the Northern Rivers and 831.4 FTE’s in New South Wales
  • An estimated contribution to Gross Regional Product (GRP) of $28.4 million in Byron Shire, $37.3 million in the Northern Rivers and $65.8 million in New South Wales in 2012/13
  • The estimated contribution to GRP in Byron Shire ($28.4 million) represents approximately 2.1% of the total GRP for Byron Shire.
  • Bluesfest Touring 2013 promoted 120 Individual shows  across Australia with attendances totaling 93,698
  • A record breaking $120,000+ was raised by Bluesfest charity stalls including $50,000+ raised by the Cystic Fibrosis team (CF) bringing the total raised at Bluesfest by CF $315,000 to date.  Not to forget the 44 Orangutans adopted during Bluesfest (The Orangutan Project’s largest response at an event EVER!)

Boomerang Festival 2013 Lineup & Details

October 4th-6th, 2013
Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron Bay

Christine Anu
Casey Donovan
The Chooky Dancers
Troy Cassar Daly
Frank Yamma
Moana Moaniapato
Breabach
Digging Roots
+ more to be announced