THE annual holiday influx of junior sports teams and players for tennis and basketball championships on the Border is giving local businesses a multimillion-dollar bonus.
Wodonga Council estimates events including this week’s Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup and last week’s Victorian Junior Grasscourt Championships, net about $846,000 in direct expenditure.
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However, events co-ordinator Jane Evans, said that figure could easily climb to more than $1 million, since it did not account for expenditure by families and spectators.
Mrs Evans said sporting events were a great way for newcomers to get acquainted with the region.
“Having an extra 900 or 1000 people in your city spending money is obviously incredibly important.”
Last week’s grasscourt championships brought competitors and their families from right across the country, some from as far away as Western Australia.
This week the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup is in Albury, and the Victorian Country Week Tennis Championship will begin in Wodonga next month.
Tennis coach from Albany in Western Australia, David Kerr, has been bringing a team of 15 or 16 players from the west to Albury-Wodonga for the championships for the past six years.
Mr Kerr said it usually took a fund-raising effort of about $15,000 each year, with a lot of that spent on the Border.
“Usually we’ll rent two holiday houses for about 10 days; this year that’s costing us $3000,” Mr Kerr said.
“We eat at the Commercial Club every other night and spend a bit of time at the Albury pool when the kids have a rest day.”
Organiser of the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup Paul Gooding said it brought a lot of money to the city.
“There are 720 players, as well as referees, officials and administrators, not to mention the families and spectators,” he said.
Next month’s Country Week Championship will transform Kelly Park once again into 50 tennis courts, in what has been described by organiser Pat Gilchrist as “one of the world’s biggest grasscourt tournaments”.
“At this stage we’re bringing about 1000 competitors.”
Mrs Gilchrist said the event would have a massive impact on the local economy.
“Not only do people come for the event, but many people stay few a few days before and after to explore the region, and that is a real credit to the area.”
The Albury-Wodonga Motels Association said the region’s capacity to host large-scale sporting events was important to the local economy.
Association member and owner of the Australia Park motel Janice Reid said her motel was booked out for the entire week.
“We’ve had a lot of business over the past month, and large-scale events such as the basketball affect the whole town,” he said.