Events which attract Big Tourism to Small Places
I love travelling internationally but I equally love travelling on the highways and backroads of my own country, Australia.
Many Australians, on reaching retirement age, choose to become Grey Nomads. They drive a campervan or car+caravan or a four wheel drive vehicle to travel around Australia on journey that can vary in duration from weeks to years. Many older Americans, Canadians and Europeans do the same sort of thing.
When travelling around regional and rural Australia it becomes notable that many tourists are drawn to events which are designed to attract both domestic and international tourists. Some of these events are rustic (like a rodeo), some commemorate an historic event in the locality, celebrate an aspect of local culture or are downright quirky. What they all have in common is the potential to boost tourism.
I’ll focus on the quirky.
One of the great success stories of regional and rural tourism in Australia is the Elvis festival at Parkes in the Central West of NSW. Held in the off-sesason summer heat of January this Festival which celebrates the life and music of Elvis Presley now attracts over 25,000 visitors to Parkes (a town with no known connection with “The King” apart from some very passionate fans).
Alice Springs in the heart of Australia is famous for the Todd River Regatta in which thousands of people gather to watch boat crews of bottomless boats race barefoot along the bed of the bone dry Todd River.
Booroowa a small town (near Australia’s capital Canberra) as a response to Spain’s famous “Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona stages a far less dangerous but equally chaotic “Running of the Sheep” event down the main street of the town.
In one of my favourite rural villages , Nundle, NSW an annual event which draws thousands of people and many more pooches to this village of less than 300 people is the Annual Nundle Dog race.These events, quirky as they may be, make significant contributions to tourism in these and many other rural and regional destinations in Australia and other countries. In fact, any smart destination , large or small need to factor event planning with a few to flattening out sesaonality and boosting tourism throuhout the year. A little imagination plus a sense of humour can be a real tonic to a sleepy destination.