Womad expected to be bigger and better for 2022 return

Womad is expected to make a big come back in 2022 after being cancelled this year due to Covid.

Andy Jackson/Stuff

Womad is expected to make a big come back in 2022 after being cancelled this year due to Covid.

After being cancelled this year due to Covid-19, Womad 2022 is expected to be bigger than ever with potential to inject up to $14 million into the local economy.

A Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) report from 2020 found the economic impact of Womad steadily increased from 2010 to 2019, peaking in 2019 with the three-day festival putting $13.2m into the local economy.

Justine Gilliland, chief executive of Venture Taranaki, the region’s economic development agency, believes there is a good chance these numbers will be topped in 2022.

“After a year off last year, Taranaki is thrilled to have Womad back again and there’s a real eagerness among locals to attend.

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“Aucklanders have traditionally made up around a third of festival goers, and we can be optimistic they’ll be out in force again after a long lockdown. There’s also our recent focus on promoting Taranaki to the Christchurch market.”

Last summer, before the Delta variant arrived in New Zealand, New Plymouth’s TSB Bowl of Brooklands achieved its biggest crowd numbers in five years with nearly 45,000 attendees at the venue’s concerts despite having no international acts.

This summer the region has already had the Festival of Lights and Lorde’s TSB Bowl of Brooklands concert cancelled.

Along with Womad, this summer will also see L.A.B play the TSB Bowl of Brooklands for the third time and Synthony for the second.

Gilliland was optimistic the region was in a strong position for a strong summer especially with Covid vaccination targets in reach.

Suzanne Porter, chief executive of Taranaki Arts Festival Trust, which organises Womad, was also optimistic about the success of the upcoming festival.

“The Womad 2022 pre-sale was one of our most significant on-sale events in the last few years.

“As festival-goers get more certainty over how events can run, we’re seeing they have more confidence to buy tickets.”

With high attendance numbers expected, accommodation providers were also gearing up to be busy.

The Plymouth Hotel and Auto Lodge business manager Chris Herlihy expects all of their 171 rooms to be booked out.

“It’s one of the busiest weekends of the year for us, and we’re getting bookings already.

“Womad has an incredibly important impact on the perception of Taranaki, and it’s great for highlighting all the things we’re really good at.”

The optimism around Womad 2022 has been made possible by the Government’s event insurance scheme, which will pay out up to 90 percent of unrecoverable costs if events like WOMAD are cancelled due to Covid.

New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) has also agreed to underwrite the festival for $1.9 million.

“That kind of assurance is exactly what festival organisers, and punters, need,“ NPDC Group Manager Community and Customer Services Teresa Turner said.

“People can now really make plans for events season with confidence.”

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