Every Easter Ulladulla’s Blessing of Fleet Festival injects thousands of dollars into the local economy.
Tourists come from near and far to line the streets for the iconic parade, often making the long-weekend a getaway by booking accommodation at one of the countless local providers.
They’ll wine and dine at local cafes and restaurants, and shop in boutiques before they wander the festival’s market stalls and sample the offerings from food vans.
The festival struggled to find sponsors this year and was almost unable to go ahead until grants were awarded, celebrities stepped in and sponsors signed on.
Now, one of the region’s businesses has urged other businesses to step-up and give back to festival that boosts their bottom-line each year.
“Businesses can't just prosper by the festival coming to their front door and not give something back,” South Coast Hospitality director David Muffet said.
Businesses can't just prosper by the festival coming to their front door and not give something back.David Muffet
“We wanted to give something back to the community and thought the Blessing of the Fleet would be a good way to do that.
“So, we’ll be donating 10 per cent of turnover to local businesses during March to the festival - not just this year, we’ll be doing this annually.”
David said he “couldn’t tell you a business that doesn’t buy something from us” and that these businesses all benefit from the festival.
“Mollymook, Narrawallee, Bendalong, Bawley (Point), Kioloa – everyone in these towns benefits,” he said.
“Each business feeds off the business next door. We’ll be giving the festival $10,000 each year, but that’s just a start. We hope to give more.”
David would like to see the festival become a two-day event, but knows its future must be secured before it can be extended.
“We hope that by giving our money each year the organisers won’t have to stress about whether or not the one day can go ahead,” he said.
“It’s a closed, captured audience and if we don’t promote it, we’ll lose it. If businesses invest in it, then we’ll get a better festival and they’ll get something more out of it. It should be a showcase of what we do here locally – our produce, chefs, award-winning vineyard.
“The purpose of this is to try to encourage other businesses to do the same. We all benefit from the festival.”