Launceston business meetings mooted following shut shops for running festival

Tasmanian Running Festival organisers hope to attract up to 5000 entries in a few years time and encourage more businesses to open for the festival. Picture: Scott Gelston

Tasmanian Running Festival organisers hope to attract up to 5000 entries in a few years time and encourage more businesses to open for the festival. Picture: Scott Gelston

Missing out on potential Tasmanian Running Festival customers will be a learning experience for Launceston businesses which remained closed on Sunday.

However, Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer Jan Davis said she hoped “the learning experience” would encourage businesses to reconsider whether to open for next year’s festival.

The festival attracted more than 1500 competitors to the Launceston’s City Park.

Ms Davis mooted starting up meetings between businesses and event organisers to see how Launceston could capitalise on the crowds attracted to the area.

“Perhaps next year we can do better.”

The chamber would support and assist meetings, she said.

Unless there were enough customers, it was “not doable” for shops to open on Sunday.

Facing a 200 per cent wage loading would have been a steep price to pay for local businesses if there was not enough customers around, she said.

If businesses were making their decisions based off previous years, it would not have encouraged them to open their doors,” Ms Davis said.

Tasmanian Running Festival race director Wayne Larden said “to increase entries by almost 50 per cent is unheard of”.  

There were 1635 entries this year. That was 485 more than the 1150 entries in 2016.

He put the boost in competitor numbers down to several factors.

“Firstly was the move to City Park and the creation of the Festival Village gave it an element that it didn’t have before, and having that social aspect is very popular to runners,” Mr Larden said.

“I’d like to explore the option of moving the event of moving the event forward a couple of weeks so we don’t clash with Dark Mofo, and that should also allow us to attract more locals and local and craft beer vendors.”

The event had reached out to City Prom and Tourism Northern Tasmania and hoped with more time a far more integrated campaign bring people to Launceston for longer, he said.

Mr Larden wanted to see the event reach 5000 in a few years time with the support and coordination with Events Tasmania.

“I think we can do a lot to grow interstate participation too.”

Pont3, which Mr Larden is also the chief executive for, had taken over the event only a few months ago, which made the competitor numbers very pleasing.

Cityprom executive officer Vanessa Carlton said the organisation would support meetings mooted by the Chamber of Commerce.

The Tasmanian Running Festival was not an isolated example of people voicing their concerns about the lack of eating and shopping options open, Ms Carlton said.

The race had made a “small contribution” to the local retail economy, but she hoped a compromise could be found between businesses, event organisers and customers.

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