WITH Fremantle council’s new destination marketing plan not ramping up until 2019/20, businesses around Fishing Boat Harbour say they’re stepping up their event programming to fill the gap.
“The plan is to really make Christmas our own,” says harbour traders coordinator Eddie Watling of their first initiative, a Christmas Festival each Sunday from December 9 – 23.
Headlined by contortionist Sarah Green who’ll be performing in a transparent sphere floating around the harbour, the festival will feature buskers, mermaids, carollers, stilt walkers, 35 market stalls and an exhibition of sculptures made from recycled materials.
Organiser Nella Fitzgerald said Ms Green’s performance will be a first for Perth, adding a little excitement and an element of risk to the festivities.
“She’s only got enough air in the sphere to perform for 20 minutes, so if anything goes wrong it can be dangerous,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
Mr Watling says following the Christmas Festival, the traders are also looking to resurrect the Little Italy festival from last year’s Blessing of the Fleet, the Fremantle Food Festival and a boat show in the next year.
“The program is to keep the focus on Fremantle as a ‘must-come’ destination,” Mr Watling says.
“It’s about events – events bring people in.”
Mr Watling said they’ve got an application for $5000 funding in with Freo council for Christmas, and if that’s successful the traders will take some heart from the encouragement.
“Often we get the feeling we are being ignored in Fremantle.
“For example, the council’s Christmas campaign is about retail, but the traders here aren’t retail, even though they’re providing some of the prizes.”
Mr Watling says the traders support the council’s destination marketing plan, which aims to boost visitor numbers to Fremantle by at least 10 per cent by 2022 through building on its reputation for having spirit and soul, and a connection to the sea.
But he worries about the lag between launching the plan and implementing it’s recommendations.
“You need to keep the pot boiling; you need to be out there,” he says.
“We are one of the most visited destinations in the metropolitan area but you can’t afford to be complacent.”
by STEVE GRANT