Bluesfest has backed down on its controversial decision to charge for parking at this year’s festival and will issue refunds to thousands of ticket holders who had already paid to park there.
Just two weeks after a tribunal found that the festival had engaged in ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ over the parking plan, organisers issued a statement today saying they would postpone charging patrons to park until next year’s event.
‘All 2019 ticketholders [who have already paid for parking] will be refunded [those fees] by 12 April 2019,’ a festival spokesperson said.
‘Bluesfest apologises for any confusion caused and inconvenience it may have caused ticket purchasers.’
The festival incurred the wrath of thousands of ticket holders when it announced last December that it would be charging separate parking fees for the first time.
Coming more than seven months after tickets for this year’s event had gone on sale, the measure would have forced patrons to pay up to $250 more to attend the festival.
One ticket holder, Anthony Donnellan, took the festival to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, with the court ordering Bluesfest to refund his ticket, thus potentially setting a precedent for other ticket holders.
Echonetdaily understands that Bluesfest has now lodged an appeal against that decision.
Mr Donnellan said today’s announcement was the outcome he was hoping for.
‘I always said that everybody should have had the opportunity to get a refund and the NCAT was the only way I could see that we could achieve that,’ he said.
‘People can now decide whether they want to go to next year’s festival knowing that they will have to pay for parking.’
The Bluesfest spokesperson defended the festival’s decision to introduce paid parking next year, saying organisers had been given ‘full approval from Byron Shire Council, the NSW Police and the Roads & Maritime Services to include paid parking’.
‘Paid parking is being introduced due to increased costs in multiple areas of the live music business including artist fees, production, logistics, grounds maintenance and security,’ the spokesperson said.
‘As the last major live music event within the region to introduce a parking fee, Bluesfest understands that it imposes a further cost for patrons, however as a business, the company needs to ensure the future of the festival.
‘Bluesfest encourages patrons travelling to the festival to consider the environment when making the trip to Byron Bay, and to car pool or use public transport where possible. Bluesfest is also asking patrons to bring re-usable water bottles to the site to eliminate plastic usage at the festival.’