GOT THE DRILL?: Decor designer Emma Woodburn and Christina Covinton from Hari Har Chai spruce up the Cavanbah food hall at Bluesfest.
GOT THE DRILL?: Decor designer Emma Woodburn and Christina Covinton from Hari Har Chai spruce up the Cavanbah food hall at Bluesfest. Patrick Gorbunovs

Business boost past Brunswick

ACCOMMODATION across Byron Shire and for most of the region is virtually booked out for Easter, thanks in large part to up to 40,000 people attending the Byron Bay Blues Festival over the next five days.

There were just a handful of unpowered camping sites available in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby as of yesterday, according to the acting manager of the Byron Bay Visitor Centre, Melissa Sanders.

But a broad cross section of businesses beyond hotels, motels and caravan parks will reap the benefits of the event which kicks off this afternoon. Thanks to the festival now being based at Tyagarah, the north of the shire is increasingly cashing in.

A growing number of punters are choosing to skip Byron and stay in the Brunswick Valley as it's quicker to get to the festival, especially as they can bypass the notoriously congested Ewingsdale Rd.

Peter Wotton, the vice president of the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce said even day visitors from the north were leaving their cars in the north of the shire and taking the bus to the event, providing an even bigger boom to local eateries and shops.

"We know of a lot of people who park at South Golden Beach," he said.

The Brunswick Heads visitor centre itself does a brisk trade in souvenirs over Easter as the bus-stop for the festival is outside its front door.

Mr Wotton said a lot of people found five solid days of music a little too intense and broke it up with activities in the area, providing a shot in the arm for another range of businesses.

Skydive Byron Bay, which neighbours the festival site, hands out vouchers at the event.

"It definitely has a positive flow-on effect for our business," said national operations manager Tracy Brown.

Easter is the third-busiest peri- od of the year for The Yum Yum Tree Cafe at New Brighton, said owner Manfred Rudolf.

The village has dozens of holiday homes, many accommodating Bluesfest-goers at this time of the year, he said.



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