Wacky outback events struggle to survive as insurers slap them with “high-risk” premiums

A Queensland tourism body is calling on the government to help safeguard Australia’s wonderfully wacky outback events and festivals from rising insurance costs and tightening regulations.

Robyn Stephens, an event organiser who has been volunteering with Winton’s Outback Festival for more than 30 years, told ABC News that when it comes to quirkier events, public liability has become “very, very difficult”.

“There’s a lot of insurers out there that don’t want to look at events. They seem to think that there’s risks in a lot of our events where we don’t see them,” Stephens said.

“Some [insurers] I don’t think understand what some of these events are.”

By “quirkier events”, we mean the strange and uniquely Australian events that bring thousands of visitors to small rural towns, such as the dunny derby at Winton’s Outback Festival, which sees locals race each other in portaloos, or Longreach’s inflatable duck racing event.

Image source: Outback Festival

According to the Outback Festival’s organisers, this year’s event saw more than 5,000 visitors flock to the rural town of Winton, which usually boasts only 800 residents.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) boss Daniel Gschwind said there are ways to help the events survive, but support from the federal government is needed.

“Perhaps we have to come together as an industry, with government, to establish insurance pools for certain activities like events,” Gschwind told ABC News.

“There are options, but it’s a really concerted efforts that’s required here with particularly federal government and industry [assistance].

“We are certainly hoping we will find some solutions.”

Gschwind suggested the problem could be that insurance companies don’t have enough local understanding.

“In some cases, tourism or tourism activities and events, to insurance companies, are just a little bit messy and uncertain and they perhaps don’t understand it fully,” he said.

“As a consequence, they attach a high-risk premium to those activities.

“It’s any kind of activity, any kind of adventure activity, which is what tourism is all about. And it’s really affecting the core of what drives our industry. That’s the tragedy.”

Featured image source: Outback Festival