LAWRIE Minson’s letter to The Northern Daily Leader about motel prices during the Country Music Festival sparked plenty of discussion from music fans and festival-goers.
Lawrie, a multi-instrumentalist and Tamworth resident, spoke out about what he believes is price gouging by Tamworth moteliers who increase their prices during the festival.
The letter prompted a response from moteliers Wade and Amanda Berryman, who own the Country Capital Motel. The Berrymans said the festival was their peak period.
Musicians and country fans have spoken out on Facebook with 70 comments on Lawrie’s Facebook page and more than 30 comments when his story was shared by the Country Music Channel.
Respondents have written that it had become too expensive for them to attend and even suggested the festival be moved to another town.
Golden Guitar winner Lachlan Davidson, of The Davidson Brothers, wrote, “Tamworth is the most expensive festival we’ve ever been to ... accom costs for our band are in the thousands! It is cheaper for any country music fan to fly to Nashville for a week than to attend Tamworth for 10 days.”
Former ABC Radio Saturday Night Country host, John Nutting wrote: “I stayed in the same room every year for almost 10 years during festival time. I also used that room other times of the year during ABC visits. It was about $80 a night then and $220 a night during the festival. I also had to pay 10 per cent up front in advance ... it was more expensive than most Sydney hotels for a small room ... During that 10 years, the crack in the wall was never repaired and the room was never refurbished. They then put the price up to $250 a night and asked that payment be made in full in advance. That’s when I told the ABC that we should seriously consider our commitment to the festival because of the outrageous costings. Indeed we scaled down a lot ... sadly all the letters to local papers will not change the minds of the greedy in Tamworth and there are many greedy people there who continue to tarnish the reputation of Tamworth and the festival.”
Lawrie said he wanted to broach the subject after he returned from the Gympie Music Muster where he paid $110 per night for a motel that did not double prices during the event.
He said it was important for Tamworth residents and those involved with the festival to be aware of what people from outside the city were saying.
“I want to try to find a fair solution so the visitors can have an enjoyable and value-for-money experience,” he said. “The moteliers don’t seem to think there is a problem and that concerns me because everyone else thinks there is a problem.”
Lawrie said he spoke to Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray yesterday and he had a plan.
“That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time,” he said.
Tamworth Moteliers Association president Jye Segboer said he did not believe there was a problem with accommodation prices.
“When you compare any accommodation prices (motels, home stays, etc in Tamworth) to somewhere like the Blues and Roots festival, I looked on Wotif and rates were $550 for a three-star property, minimum three-night stay,” he said.
“It’s a fairly similar-sized event, although a different demographic, and I certainly don’t think any prices in Tamworth are at those prices. I don’t think it is a detriment to the festival ... if you went to Sydney on New Year’s, you would pay exorbitant prices.”
Across the association members, Mr Segboer said 80 per cent of clients were repeat visitors.
“I certainly don’t see it is a problem,” he said.