The Rip Curl Pro will bring tens of thousands of tourists to the Surf Coast this Easter, industry leaders say.
In its 59th year of competition, the world’s longest-running surfing event sees surfers and spectators from all over the globe travel to Bells Beach to watch the pros take on the famous wave. Covid-19 restrictions have prevented the event from being held for the past two years.
Surfing Victoria’s Operations Manager Pete Murphy says the two-year break has only led to more excitement for the event.
“People are frothing,” Murphy says. “They cannot wait to get back to the event.”
“It’s going to be crazy. Over the course of one day, there are around 10,000 people that come down.”
The hallmark event sits on the Victorian calendar alongside the Melbourne Cup, the AFL grand final and Formula One Grand Prix. Bells Beach is renowned for its huge swells and is regularly listed as one of the best surfing destinations in Australia. The Bells trophy is one of the most highly sought-after titles on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship tour.
Each year, the Rip Curl Pro brings about $30 million worth of economic benefit to the region, including Surf Coast towns such as Torquay, according to Murphy.
“I think people make the effort to come here and the by-product of that is that they get to see other areas around Victoria and particularly the Surf Coast and the Great Ocean Road,” Murphy says.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every sector across Australia, and the hospitality industry took one of the hardest hits. As local pubs, bars and restaurants were forced to close their doors last Easter, sales and tourism plummeted.
Local restaurant 4 Pines is one of many hospitality venues in Torquay that were affected by the pandemic.
Restaurant Manager Dean McLardie is busy preparing for the surfing event, which he says brings more crowds to the town than the Christmas break does in summer.
“It’s by far the busiest time of year, especially the Easter weekend in the middle of the event, we see a massive influx in sales and foot traffic,” McLardie says.
“So this year we will be expecting to see better sales with the reduction in restrictions and actually having the event bring people to the town.”
The venue will be doing a special beer release to celebrate the event and will be live streaming it for those who want to watch it with a burger and a pot of beer.
For the first time in two decades, the Rip Curl Pro will open the Australian WSL championship tour. The event will run over the Easter period from Sunday April 10 to Wednesday April 20.