Malfunction Festival organiser Sean McKeown
Malfunction Festival organiser Sean McKeown Tweed Daily News

Malfunction's swell outlook

MOVING the Malfunction Surf Festival to the Tweed Coast was a gamble that has paid off for organiser Sean McKeown.

Surfers at yesterday's media conference admitted last year's move from the famous Superbank at Rainbow Bay to Kingscliff was met with scepticism, but that ended when they saw the uncrowded waves on offer.

And Kingscliff is now reaping the economic benefits of the $2 million surfing and lifestyle festival.

Cameron Arnold, who is both the general manager of Domain Resorts and chairman of Tweed Tourism, yesterday thanked Mr McKeown for bringing the event south.

Mr Arnold said what Mr McKeown had done was created a sporting event that attracted people from a diverse range of age brackets.

“From the tourism point of view, it is not just the accommodation, it is the ancillary benefits,” Mr Arnold said.

“So while we get significant accommodation out of it, it is all the rest of the stuff we like as well.

“It is the perfect type of event we want to promote for tourism.

“It puts $2 million into the local economy, and the fact we pinched it out of Queensland is great too.”

Mr McKeown admitted it had been a gamble to move the contest to Kingscliff, but that it had worked out great.

The surfing god, “Huey” was on his side, bringing good waves to Kingscliff in 2008 and Mr McKeown expects conditions to be even better this year, with perfectly lined-up banks.

He said there was a lot of room for growth in the event and he would be working with Tweed Shire Council to make it a major tourism venture.

“That is why we brought in a lot of out-of-water activities - by having the music in the park, the art exhibition and car rally ... we can cater for thousands more people,” Mr McKeown said.

The event is backed by Tourism New South Wales and Mr Arnold said a surf tourism working group was putting together a strategy for the market, set to be released in six months.

“Steph (Gilmore) is from Kingscliff, Mick (Fanning) is from the Tweed as well. We have two world champions from this area; we want to capitalise on that as much as we can,” Mr Arnold said.

Tweed surfer Mat Aldridge said he wasn't as concerned as some other surfers when the event was moved.

“The banks at the moment and the waves are really, really good, and they are not as crowded.”

He said it was good to see an event like the Malfunction on the Tweed, with the economic crisis going on.

“The whole community is going to benefit with every- one coming in,” he said.

The Malfunction surfing starts today. For more information visit www.malfunction.com.au.



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