Shockwaves have ripped through the New England business community in NSW with the news Tamworth Country Music Festival 2021 is suspended.
Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) will make the ultimate decision next week, but conservative estimates suggest the festival injects $50 million into the local economy post-Christmas and is an essential boost for small business.
It's a dark but unavoidable day for the business community, as TCMF2021 joins the long list of events cancelled around the world, Tamworth Business Chamber (TBC) vice-president Stephanie Cameron said.
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"Based on Tamworth Regional Council's (TRC) own Event Impact Assessment Model, the average festival attendee spends $151 per person, per day over the 10 days of the festival," she said.
"This accounts for more than $105 million being injected into our local economy each year.
"Every business in the country has been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another, but few sectors have been as hard hit, or face a longer road to recovery, than the hospitality and travel industries."
It has renewed calls for local, state and federal governments to step up with coronavirus crisis support for rural and regional businesses hurting at the hands of the pandemic.
Ms Cameron said she wanted TRC's economic development team to be more visible in the crisis and work with the chamber to identify ways to mitigate the socio-economic impact the festival's cancellation would bring.
"In accordance with Blueprint 100, we support the need to build resilience across the entire tourism supply chain by strengthening our tourism offering beyond country music and adopting a robust sport and event attraction strategy," she said.
The chamber will host a crisis meeting with the local Moteliers' Association in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson has assured festival organisers that the sponsorship funds from Destination NSW will be held for the event if it goes forward in a virtual or online capacity.
"The NSW Events and Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres has assured me the funding will be right for whatever happens in 2021 ... and there will be more discussion around the Golden Guitars and how that works," he said.
"That sponsorship money will be redirected or allocated to the events if there are any, but certainly our commitment to TCMF in the coming years is rock solid."
Mr Anderson could not confirm whether any further crisis stimulation packages would be announced specifically for local businesses that would be hit by the festival's cancellation.
"We're very fortunate that JobKeeper and other forms of support and assistance packages under the cloud of COVID are still in place and will be in place until March next year," he said.