Expenditure in Busselton as a result of the Ironman 70.3 has increased threefold over the past six years, as out-of-town participants and spectators choose to spend more time in the region.
Figures from event organisers Triathlon WA showed close to $8 million was spent this year, compared with $1.77 million in 2006, with the number of people attending the event increasing from about 3000 to 12,400.
The event evaluation also revealed people were spending more money individually, increasing 27 per cent from last year to $1257.
Event manager Ashleigh Davis was surprised by the sharp rise this year as past years showed more moderate increases.
Ms Davis believed the increase could be attributed to the increase in the average number of nights participants and their supporters were choosing to stay.
“A couple of years ago, people were only coming in on the Friday night and would leave on the Saturday afternoon, and now the average is just over 2.5 nights, with many international visitors choosing to stay for the week,” she said.
Surveys sent to participants after the event showed 92.2 per cent would return to Busselton as a holiday destination, while 80.2 per cent intended to return to compete next year. Geographe Bay Tourism Association chief executive Simon Taylor said the association was ensuring it capitalised on these events and was trialling a mobile booking station to help disperse participants and spectators through the region.
“By showcasing the diverse range of experiences we have on offer, we can hopefully turn these visitors into tourism ambassadors and increase the chances of subsequent visitation,” he said.
Busselton City Mayor Ian Stubbs said the City was thrilled with the increased dollar spend and the better return for local businesses.
He said the City had made a commitment to supporting the event, and would want to keep it in the region.
“It has become an important part of our cultural identity and from an economic perspective, it’s highly valuable,” Mr Stubbs said.
Ms Davis said next year’s event was still in the planning stage, but the number of participants was expected to exceed 3500, compared with 2809 this year.
“We want to grow a positive legacy within the Busselton community,” she said.
“We don’t just want to come in and then walk out without leaving something behind.”