Southbound 2017 cancelled: What will it do to tourism?

The long-running Busselton music festival Southbound has called off its 2017 event. The iconic arts, camping and music event has run for the last 13 years in the South West, hosting a variety of Australian and international acts.

While it is currently unknown exactly what the economic impact of the festivals cancellation will be on the Busselton area, those in the tourism sector agree that it may affect the local industry.  Shadow Minister for Tourism Libby Mettam said the cancellation was disappointing for the community. 

“The cancellation of Southbound is disappointing and will have an impact on local businesses which was experienced when the event was cancelled in 2016 as a result of the Yarloop bushfire,” she said.

“Like any event, Southbound encourages visitation and vibrancy and will have a knock on effect for the tourism industry and local economy. 

“The event was supported by many small local businesses. It is essential that they are paid and this should be an absolute priority for the event organisers.”

The Busselton Football Club was one group which was owed money by the festival. Club president Rob Witten said they took a settlement from Southbound earlier this year.

“The club is just looking forward to moving on to bigger and better things now that we have accepted the settlement.” 

It is not known if other businesses have accepted any settlements. Margaret River Busselton Tourism Assosiation Interim CEO Steve Harrison said Southbound attracts a different demographic to the region. “With regards to the local tourism economy, Southbound attracts a unique demographic of visitor who we don’t always have the chance to inspire and educate about the fantastic experiences on offer in Busselton and surrounds,” he said. 

“We believe that leaving a lasting impression with these visitors will mean that they revisit the region time and time again, and with this in mind, last year we worked with the festival organisers to promote experiences such as skydiving onto Busselton beach, coasteering at Canal Rocks and jet skiing in Dunsborough to Southbound goers. 

“While we are disappointed not to have the opportunity to work with the festival in 2017, we are looking forward to its return in 2018.” 

Southbound made the shock announcement that it will be cancelling its 2017 show on social media last week. Posted on Facebook on September 1, the festival organisers said they would be taking a break from the 2017 festival. 

“After 13 years of Southbound, it is with much consideration that we have decided to take a break for 2017 to focus on some exciting new projects. 

“Producing such events in collaboration with our community is a huge undertaking, and one as passionate organisers we take very seriously. This time will allow us to return with a re-invigorated festival with hopefully many more memorable years to come.”

Organisers stated that they would like to come back for 2018 and encouraged those who would be interested to register their interest at https://arep.co/p/southbound-2018.  

The announcement comes after last years festival was initially called off after bushfires which devastated parts of the South West forced the closure of roads between Perth and Busselton, with organisers arranging a benefit concert at Perth's HBF Stadium.

Eventually the 2016 event was rescheduled to December however, it suffered from poor ticket sales. Earlier this year, the Mail reported that organisers of Southbound were talking to third parties about the continuation of the music festival.

At the time, Sunset Events director David Chitty could not confirm whether the future of the festival was at risk because the discussions were confidential. City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said that the festival could re-apply to host another event in the future.

“The city’s understands Southbound’s decision not to proceed with the festival this year. The current contract does allow Southbound to re-apply to host the event in the future,” Mr Henley said.

“The Southbound event has been both economically and socially beneficial to our community and the city is keen to engage with musical events in the future. We wish Southbound all the best.”  

This story Southbound cancellation to impact local tourism first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.