Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

A SPAN­NER has been thrown in the works, but Air­lie Beach Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic or­gan­iser Gavin “Butto” But­lin is go­ing to make the 2016 event hap­pen.

Mr But­lin said this year the fes­ti­val had not been suc­cess­ful in ob­tain­ing fund­ing un­der Tourism and Events Queens­land’s Queens­land Des­ti­na­tion Events Pro­gram, leav­ing him with a lot of fi­nan­cial ground to make up.

“The event costs $500,000 to put on and it is the big­gest event in the Whit­sun­days,” he said.

“I’ve put de­posits down on a num­ber of as­pects of the fes­ti­val. This year’s fes­ti­val is def­i­nitely go­ing ahead, but fu­ture fes­ti­vals are in doubt.”

The move comes af­ter two years of suc­cess­ful fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions.

A TEQ spokesper­son said there were some pre­vi­ously funded events, such as the fes­ti­val, that did not re­ceive fund­ing in the cur­rent round.

“This is be­cause they ei­ther did not meet the QDEP fund­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria, did not meet the cri­te­ria as strongly as the suc­cess­ful sub­mis­sions, or did not demon­strate suf­fi­cient growth and value from pre­vi­ous fund­ing con­tracts,” the spokesper­son said.

Mr But­lin said the fes­ti­val was build­ing and would soon be self suf­fi­cient, but in the mean­time he needed a hand to keep the tourists rolling in.

“In a cou­ple of years time I’ll stand alone,” he said.

“I won’t need sup­port be­cause the fes­ti­val will be that big that I can sell enough tick­ets to cover the cost.

“We’ve turned the dead­est week­end of the year into the busiest the Whit­sun­days has ever seen.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic event for lo­cal busi­ness, it brings in thou­sands of tourists from all across the coun­try.”

State Mem­ber for Whit­sun­day Ja­son Costi­gan took aim at the La­bor funded TEQ pro­gram in a Face­book post, say­ing it sim­ply wasn’t good enough.

“As a pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cate for tourism, es­pe­cially re­gional tourism, I am stunned by this out­come and call on the min­is­ter to step in for the sake of this hugely pop­u­lar event, which brings so many peo­ple to town,” he wrote.

TOP TIME: The 2015 Air­lie Beach Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic drew in huge crowds. Photo: An­drew Pat­tin­son/Vampp Pho­tog­ra­phy

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