Case Study: The benefits of event management by a regional tourism organisation
Tulip Time, Bowral NSW: The reinvigoration of a long-standing festival by introducing professional event expertise and intensive Local Government support.
Tulip Time is 58 years old and is now run by Destination Southern Highlands (Council-funded but mostly independent of Council). The first festival was started in 1961 by the Rotary Club of Bowral-Mittagong. It was run by Rotary along with community members until fifteen years ago when the organisation went bankrupt.
Council took it over and now underwrites it with $250,000 and does the organising and marketing of the festival. A working party of two Councillors, Destination Southern Highlands staff and community (a 355 Committee) is managed by Destination Southern Highlands Manager. $250,000 pays for 110,000 tulips and planting, 3-day-a week-coordinator, marketing and other planning and management roles.
Council has totally reengineered the festival. For the first two years Council ran it, it contracted a professional event coordinator from Sydney to make the event more sustainable financially and to reassess the program and marketing.
Then Destination Southern Highlands redeveloped the event to be more inclusive for the community and to develop it into a major hallmark festival. Each year, the festival is themed and there is a local and a national charity partner. Council’s principles are used at the event such as bottle-free water sales, for waste management, and being balloon-free.
Now Tulip Time is one of Australia’s best-known floral festivals along with Canberra’s Floriade (which took its origins from Tulip Time) and Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.