TAMWORTH’S Australian Equine and Livestock Centre (AELEC) has cemented itself as one of the city’s top money-makers, generating about $12 million into the local economy each year.
It comes on the back of the National Cutting Horse Association’s (NCHA) 2017 Futurity bringing in its biggest crowd on record.
More than 800 riders from across the world converged on the country music capital over the past two weeks.
Despite the $32 million facility yet to break even since its 2008 opening, Tamworth mayor Col Murray insists the venue is still one of the city’s most lucrative drawcards.
“It’s certainly one of the best facilities the region holds in terms of visitors,” Cr Murray said.
“One of the really great things about AELEC is that it’s created a new industry.
“It’s opened up opportunities for the city for national and international visitors.
“While it’s not paying for its own costs … I’d expect within the next five years it breaks even.”
Cr Murray said the non-direct income the venue generates couldn’t be ignored, across the retail, hospitality and accommodation sectors.
AELEC manager Mike Rowland confirmed the venue pumped more than $12 million into the city each year.
“To the year ending June, 2016, we recorded a total of 93,676 visitor nights from events at AELEC, which we estimate to provide an economic contribution of $12,126,600 to our city,” he said.
“Between its Futurity event and the National Finals, NCHA utilise our venue for a total of 38 days each year, which creates 28,983 visitor nights for the financial year ending June, 2016, at an estimated economic contribution of $3,668,107.
“We are pleased with the number of regular events that choose our world-class facility as their venue of choice, and welcome any new events to our schedule also.”
Tamworth Business Chamber president Jye Segboer said AELEC played a significant role in bringing the $150 million in total tourist dollars to the region every year.
“I think for the region, it’s a wonderful facility to have,” he said.
“Over 300 event days are booked at AELEC per year, so just about every week, you have something on.”
Mr Segboer shut down suggestions competitors at AELEC fail to contribute to the city’s economy when they stayed onsite, and said they and their supporters spend up at pubs, restaurants and supermarkets, and visitors account for a large slice of retail trade.
“It’s an invaluable (asset) to our region,” he said.