WHILE the Grand Final Eve public holiday may not have generated an enormous amount of dollars for all local businesses, it certainly did not disappoint the many tourists to the area who came expecting shops and services to be in operation.
A last minute flurry of bookings saw the majority of holiday accommodation venues, including holiday homes, Tidal River’s campground, Foster’s Warrawee Holiday Apartments and Youth Hostel, close to being completely booked out, with many holiday makers taking advantage of the opportunity to extend their weekend by incorporating the Thursday night into their plans.
“Bookings were looking busy for Friday and Saturday nights, as is usual during the September school holidays, but suddenly about one week before the public holiday, the phone began to ring red hot with bookings coming in requesting Thursday to Saturday nights inclusive,” said Kate Fooke, proprietor of PromAccom accommodation booking service.
One local agent took 28 bookings for holiday home accommodation for the long weekend, compared to just eight for the weekend prior to the public holiday.
With the Grand Final Eve public holiday falling just prior to the start of the last weekend of the September school holidays, it has made it somewhat difficult for many traders to truly gauge the impact of the public holiday upon their business.
As many businesses in Foster are family owned and operated, the majority chose to open on the Friday, seeing it as the only way to determine if such a holiday would be deemed a success or a failure.
The consensus amongst the majority seems to be that although the holiday may not have generated enough money to make it worthwhile employing staff at penalty rates, it was at least an interesting public relations exercise and one which, along with the fabulous weather, brought people to the area.
“There were a lot of people around on the Friday until the early afternoon and Saturday and Sunday were huge,” said Main Street Revelations’ proprietor Deborah Harris, in terms of the numbers of people who were in town, but not necessarily in terms of the financial gain to the area.
“A couple from Torquay who travel extensively dropped in and mentioned that they thought it was the prettiest town they had come across in a long time,” Deborah said, adding that she had seen groups of people gathering to have holiday snaps taken in Main Street with a background of the gloriously colourful poppies.
Janine Best of InsideOut Clothing had low expectations for Friday’s trading.
“With fantastic weather, the timing was fantastic. Trade was busy until around 1pm, when after shopping, people probably went elsewhere to enjoy the sun,” Janine said.
“There were plenty of people milling about, but in talking to other traders, it seems pretty general that for the majority of people visiting town on Friday, window shopping was simply a way to help fill a pleasant sunny public holiday; most seemed to have no desire to make purchases, with the exception of those visiting supermarkets or cafes,” said another trader, who voiced the opinion of many in that it was worth a try, but that they hope the Grand Final Eve public holiday is cancelled in the future.
One local trader summed it up as; “It brought additional people to the town. Maybe some small percentage of them will return at some other stage and spend money, but other than that, I’d regard it as a waste of time and money.”