Racewars moves economy up a gear

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Racewars fans packed town from Friday to Monday.
Camera IconRacewars fans packed town from Friday to Monday.

Racewars 2019 has been lauded as a commercial success for Albany after accommodation across town was booked out to thousands of visitors.

However, one community leader said some businesses had shot themselves in the foot by not opening over the long weekend.

Racewars organisers hoped for 10,000 spectators at the weekend airport drag-racing event, and recorded about 8500 before it was cut short around midday on Sunday, according to City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington.

The Albany Visitor Centre also recorded more than 2100 people through its doors from Thursday-Sunday, and Mr Wellington said accommodation was booked out across town.

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“I went into the visitor centre on Thursday morning and they said they’d stopped ringing around for rooms because there was nothing available,” Mr Wellington said.

“It was chock-a-block. I think it was pretty evident from the number of people around on the weekend; food and beverage, accommodation would have done well — and service stations.”

Mr Wellington said he was looking forward to the event returning next year.

Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Clark said having thousands trek to Albany for the event was great for businesses, but highlighted a missed opportunity for some shop owners.

“I drove up and down York Street on Sunday and Monday and there wasn’t much going on,” he said.

“It would have been good for the businesses of Albany to open on those long weekends when there’s a big event or something like that to make the town vibrant.”

For most of the year, major retail and supermarket chains are not permitted to open on Sundays and on public holidays, but small retail outlets — which make up the bulk of businesses in town — can open seven days.

Organisers of the not-for-profit event said last year’s event brought more than 9000 visitors and $5 million to the City of Albany.

Racewars was contacted for comment.

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