Schoolies Victor Harbor Relocation

Sep 5 / Michael Schubert

BVH Executive Officer Colin Shearing interview with ABC Adelaide

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Business Victor Harbor (BVH) Executive Officer Colin Shearing and Chairman Michael Schubert made a deputation at the August 22, City of Victor Harbor council meeting, declaring that a discussion should start about relocating the event.

As reported in the Fleurieu Sun, Elected members moved to support council administration to commence discussions with Encounter Youth and affiliated stakeholders on potential relocation of future Schoolies Festivals from the existing site to alternative sites within Victor Harbor and that options be presented to the council for consideration ahead of the 2023 event.

BVH places on record that it supports Victor Harbor Schoolies. Victor Harbor has clearly demonstrated to the State that it is a great region, destination and fit to continue hosting this initiative, given its accessibility to a broader Adelaide Metro/Regional reach.

Further, BVH supports our young South Australian school leavers, in providing a safe and secure site to enjoy their special end of secondary school celebrations.

However, BVH believes that the site of this important event for our youth should not be at an inconvenience, cost, and disruption to local traders, including interrupting customer traffic, challenges to supplier transportation logistics, disrupting general day-to-day operations.

Position of BVH

Up until now our business operators, within the Schoolies designated area have demonstrated reasonable tolerance, resilience and notwithstanding trying to trade through the challenging times of COVID.    

Such events need to be given consideration by all relevant stakeholders. 

Collaboration is key to driving good local outcomes and solutions.     

Local traders need their confidence restored and ‘clean-air’ to trade towards a vibrant and healthy local business economy.

Warland Reserve presents major disruption points to all surrounding businesses, including the closure of streets and Victor Harbor’s main tourist destination streets, all of which are also seeing significant streetscape upgrades. 

It just so happens that the Schoolies event happens at the lead-in to the festive season, being the most important trading period of the year. The synergy with local bricks and mortar traders and the running of the event does not work. 

However, there are major ‘swings and roundabouts’ to consider.

Not all traders experience uplifts, particularly those local bricks & mortar traders, where the imposition of such an event held in Victor Harbor’s prime destination location comes at a cost to locals, with the exception of ‘out-of-town’ businesses directly running and supporting the event.

Despite the event attracting up to 10,000 people to Victor Harbor, Schoolies has a negative overall economic impact to local businesses, with the pain being felt the most by CBD traders closest to the Warland Reserve staging.

The downturn in local spending is evidenced in economic data sourced for the first time by the City of Victor Harbor from SpendMapp by Geografia, and also backed surveys of the business community undertaken by Business Victor Harbor.

When comparing an equivalent 1 week of Schoolies spend against 1 week of normalised spending, (2 weeks prior to the Schoolies event in 2021):

Businesses within the CBD of Victor Harbor are impacted the most, with CBD spending reducing by $313,889;
Residents avoid spending in the Victor Harbor CBD resulting in a negative economic impact of $249,195 for traders;
Visitor spending within the CBD decreases overall by $99,544.
Please note that any accommodation purchased prior to the festival is not included in this data as the transaction would have taken place in the months leading up.

BVH is committed to being represented at the table, to work with Council and all relevant stakeholders in assisting the way forward to identify and establish a new safe and secure location for Victor Harbor’s Schoolies event.     

Surveys undertaken by Business Victor Harbor show that a majority of businesses felt that they not given the opportunity to voice their opinions or concerns in the planning stage of this event. Local businesses told us:

“The usual visitors and tourists stayed away”

“We are a well prepared town, able to cope with a variety of generations. We are seen as a tolerant and friendly destination with good facilities”

“It’s good to promote the area as somewhere fun for youth to go”

“Victor Harbor is seen and marketed as a beautiful and relaxing place and nothing about Schoolies was beautiful or relaxing with them swarming the streets, our customers didn’t want to sit outside because it was so loud and we actually had 11 cancellations who stated it was because they found out schoolies was on and didn’t want to be in town at that point”

“Everyone stays away if they realise Schoolies is on, we had clients staying in accommodation next to schoolies & they were absolutely horrid!!!”

“The main (Schoolies) festival should be moved to a sports oval, rather than the centre of town. We could accommodate the festivities without turning the town into a rubbish dump eyesore for 3 days”

“It’s a well organised event that keeps the kids safe”
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