Gold Coast’s $200m plan to lead festival industry out of Covid

The Gold Coast has a plan to spearhead the Australian festival industry’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown.

Mar 23, 2021, updated Mar 24, 2021
Carlina Ericson. (Image: Supplied)

Carlina Ericson. (Image: Supplied)

Founder and event director of the Australian Festival Industry Conference (AFIC) Carlina Ericson said that a year after the Federal Government’s ban on “non-essential mass gatherings of 500+ people” came into effect, the Gold Coast is leading the economic recovery of Australia’s festival industry.

“When you look at the amount of announcements that have been made this year alone relating to the return of festivals in 2021, it’s really quite impressive!” Ericson said.

More than 20 festivals have been confirmed to take place on the Gold Coast in 2021, which, according to the region’s peak major events organisation, Major Events Gold Coast (MEGC), will help to generate approximately $200m for the Gold Coast economy.

MEGC is charged with the responsibility of igniting the city with a vibrant array of festivals, sporting and cultural events that showcase the Gold Coast as a world-class, global events destination.

MEGC’s CEO, Jan McCormick, who will be presenting at the AFIC, says the organisation “is committed to showcasing Australia’s Gold Coast as one of the most sought-after destinations to present, attend or participate in an event”.

McCormick said “we are absolutely thrilled that the Gold Coast has been successful in securing the 2021 Australian Festival Industry Conference. It is a wonderful opportunity to boost our city’s economy and showcase all that the city has to offer”.

More than 150 delegates are expected to travel to the Gold Coast for the conference which will take place across 1 to 3 September 2021 at Sea World Resort.

Last week’s $1.2b tourism package announcement by the Australian Federal Government provides the Gold Coast and Australia’s festival industry with even more opportunities to recover as it navigates its way through a post COVID-19 world.

Austrade’s ‘Business Events Grant Program’ encourages potential sponsors or exhibitors to apply for a 50 per cent reimbursement of their associated costs through the Federal Government.

The minimum spend has been reduced to $10,000 (originally $20,000), meaning that anyone who is interested in partnering or exhibiting at any business event listed on the program’s ‘Schedule of Approved Business Events’, can apply to claim $5,000 back from Austrade. Additionally, the deadline for applications has been extended to 30 June 2021.

“I have been actively lobbying the Tourism Minister for some time now on changes to Austrade’s program, explaining that due to the severe economic impact that COVID-19 has had upon Australia’s festival industry, the Program’s conditions currently act as a barrier to participation and, therefore, has a direct flow on effect to the industry’s overall recovery rate,” Ericson said.

“AFIC enables suppliers from the Gold Coast, and indeed across the country, to get in front of some of the country’s top festival decision makers and this program will be crucial to their post-COVID-19 economic recovery.”

The Gold Coast is also included in the half-price airline ticket program which will run from 1 April to 30 September 2021.

This means that festival professionals from across the country will have access to discounted travel to attend AFIC and acts a prime incentive for them to extend their stay and explore the Gold Coast’s pristine beaches, top-quality restaurants and various theme parks.

“I’m really excited about what the recent announcements mean for the recovery of the Australian festival industry and the Gold Coast’s tourism economy,” Ericson said.

“I would encourage everyone to take advantage of these limited time government incentives that are designed to kick-start the national economy so that we can all get back to work.”

The following Gold Coast-based festivals will proceed in 2021:

  1. Beyond the Sands Art Festival
  2. Gondwana Festival
  3. Storyfest Writers Festival
  4. Gold Coast Film Festival
  5. Gold Coast Running Festival
  6. Rosé Coast Gold Coast
  7. Inverted Festival
  8. Under the Southern Stars
  9. Blues on Broadbeach
  10. Cooly Rocks On
  11. Village Roadshow Theme Parks Marathon
  12. Pan Pacific Masters Games
  13. Gold Coast Cheese, Chilli & Chocolate Festival
  14. Beach Rugby Australia Festival
  15. SWELL Sculpture Festival
  16. Crafted Beer & Cider Festival
  17. Gold Coast Multicultural Festival
  18. Groundwater Country Music Festival
  19. Festival of Touch
  20. FISIOCREM GC50 Run Festival
  21. Gold Coast 600 & Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500
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