Event Tourism: Woodstock

Event tourism Woodstock | For the local tourism industry it was a disaster beyond any comparison, for the tourists it was the most amazing event ever: Woodstock Music & Art Fair near the town of Bethel (NY) between August 15 and 17, 1969, attracted an audience of over 400,000 people. And nobody did pay for accommodation.

Event tourism Woodstock
Arlo Guthrie’s words at Woodstock (“The New York State Thruway is closed, man!”) turned out to be not true. The truth was that local police closed exits near Woodstock to prevent more people to come to the counterculture festival.

It was only a 2.5 hour ride from New York City up the Hudson River to Woodstock, near the Ashokan Reservoir; seemed like perfect for a weekend trip. But local residents of the Woodstock area did not like the idea of hosting a “hippie concert”. And for the organisers (working under the name “Woodstock Ventures”) the event grew into a never ending headache for years to come. Initially Woodstock Ventures settled the concert on an industrial site near the city of Wallkill. But permits were revoked just one month before the festival was to take place. Residents opposed the project. In early July, the Town Board passed a law requiring a permit for any gathering over 5,000 people. On July 15, 1969, the Wallkill Zoning Board of Appeals officially banned the concert on the basis that the planned portable toilets would not meet town code. Reports of the ban turned out to be a publicity bonanza for the festival. Luckily Woodstock Ventures stumbled into Max Yasgur,owner of a dairy farm in nearby Bethel. For $75,000 in return the Bethel Town Attorney and a building inspector approved the permits, although the Bethel Town Board refused to issue them formally. Clark was ordered to post stop-work orders. But there was no way back. Too many stars did already sign contracts.

Event tourism Woodstock
Event Tourism Woodstock: Largest counter culture festival ever.

In April 1969, newly minted superstars CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) became the first act to sign a contract for the event, agreeing to play for $10,000. The promoters had experienced difficulty landing big-name groups prior to CCCR committing to play. Once CCR inked their deal, it become easy to sign other stars. A list of the monetary breakdown:

1. Jimi Hendrix – ,000
2. Blood, Sweat and Tears – ,000
3. Joan Baez – ,000
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival – ,000
5. The Band – ,500
6. Janis Joplin – ,500
7. Jefferson Airplane – ,500
8. Sly and the Family Stone – ,000
9. Canned Heat – ,500
10. The Who – ,250
11. Richie Havens – ,000
12. Arlo Guthrie – ,000
13. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – ,000
14. Ravi Shankar – ,500
15. Johnny Winter – ,750
16. Ten Years After – ,250
17. Country Joe and the Fish – ,500
18. Grateful Dead – ,500
19. The Incredible String Band – ,250
20. Mountain – ,000
21. Tim Hardin – ,000
22. Joe Cocker – ,375
23. Sweetwater – ,250
24. John B. Sebastian – ,000
25. Melanie – 0
26. Santana – 0
27. Sha Na Na – 0
28. Keef Hartley – 0
29. Quill – 5

Woodstock was designed as a profit-making event. Tickets cost $18 in advance and $24 at the gate (equivalent to $120 and $160 today). Ticket sales were limited to record stores in the greater New York City area, or by mail via a P.O.Box. Around 186,000 advance tickets were sold. Those $3,35million earned would have covered all investments, leaving the promoters with a decent profit. But things took a different turn, making them pay off debt for another decade …

Event tourism Woodstock
Woodstock 1969 is a perfect example of missed chances of a local tourist industry to cash out on an event. And because of these missed chances this festival reached legendary status.

The late change in venue did not give the festival organisers enough time to prepare. At a meeting three days before the event, Woodstock Ventures felt they had two options: #1 was to complete the fencing and ticket booths, without which the promoters were almost certain to lose more money. #2 involved putting their remaining available resources into building a proper stage, without which the promoters feared they would have a disappointed and disgruntled audience. The decision fell in favour of the stage, and that was the right move. Because fences became an oxymoron anyway, and the stage needed to withstand a lot of heavy rain.

Event tourism Woodstock
Woodstock Ventures estimated the crowd to be at 200,000 max. Twice as many came. Another one million did not reach the venue.

The huge influx of attendees to the concert site was simply overwhelming. It created massive traffic jams. Eventually, announcements on radio stations as far away as WNEW-FM in Manhattan and descriptions of the traffic jams on TV news discouraged people from setting off to the festival. To add to the problems and difficulty in dealing with such large crowd, recent rains had caused muddy roads and fields. The facilities were neither equipped to provide sanitation nor first aid for 400,000 people. The hippies found themselves in a struggle against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation.

Jimi Hendrix was the last act to perform at Woodstock. Hendrix took the stage at 8:30am Monday morning. The remaining audience was now reduced to about 30,000; many of them merely waited to catch a glimpse of Hendrix before they had to urgently leave during his performance. Don’t forget, it was a Monday. Most people needed to go back to work.

Event tourism Woodstock Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix was the main and final gig at Woodstock. But due heavy rain his stage appearance was delayed until Monday morning 8:30am. Less than 10% of the 400,000 people attending the counterculture festival where able to see Jimi Hendrix perform.

Woodstock ’69 turned out to be an epic success – the most famous music festival ever. It was remarkably peaceful given the number of people and the conditions involved. Nearly every second adult was stoned. Still there were only two recorded fatalities: one from what was believed to be a heroin overdose, and another caused in an accident when a tractor ran over an attendee sleeping in a nearby hayfield. There also were two births recorded at the event: one in a car caught in traffic and another in a hospital after an airlift by helicopter.

Very few reporters from outside the immediate area were on the scene. During the first two days of the festival, a predominantly arrogant national media coverage only emphasized the problems. Front page headlines in the Daily News read “Traffic Uptight at Hippiefest” and “Hippies Mired in a Sea of Mud”. Coverage became more positive by the end of the festival, because parents of concertgoers called the media and told them, based on their children’s stories, the media reporting was misleading.

The New York Times covered the prelude to the festival and the move from Wallkill to Bethel. Barnard Collier, who reported from the event for The New York Times, asserts that he was pressured by on-duty editors at the paper to write a misleadingly negative article about the event. According to Collier, this led to acrimonious discussions and his threat to refuse to write the article until the paper’s executive editor agreed to let him write the article as he saw fit. The eventual article dealt with issues of traffic jams and minor lawbreaking, but went on to emphasize cooperation, generosity, and the good nature of the festival goers.

Woodstock Aftermath

The documentary film Woodstock, directed by Michael Wadleigh and edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese, was released in 1970. Artie Kornfeld (one of the promoters of the festival) went to Fred Weintraub, an executive at Warner Bros., and asked for money to film the festival. Artie had been turned down everywhere else, but against the express wishes of other Warner Bros. executives, Weintraub put his job on the line and gave Kornfeld $100,000 to make a very very successful documentary. What a lucky move! Woodstock helped to save Warner Bros. at a time when the company was on the verge of going out of business.

Right after Woodstock approximately 80 lawsuits were filed against Woodstock Ventures. But the documentary financed all settlements and even paid off another $1.4 million of debt the organizers had incurred from the festival. Today the Woodstock album released in 1970 is listed as #24 in the all time list of best-selling albums by year in the United States. Woodstock 2 – released in 1971 – is ranked #47.

Farmer Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a 1970 revival of the festival.

Bethel voters tossed out their supervisor in an election held in November 1969 because of his role in bringing the festival to the town. New York State and the town of Bethel passed mass gathering laws designed to prevent any more festivals from occurring.

Woodstock quickly became a pilgrimage destination for hippies and their children. Still it took locals almost 30 years to realize that they missed out on a lot of financial benefits from this “one-in-a-million” event. Many ill advised attempts were made to prevent people from visiting the site, its owners spread chicken manure, and during one anniversary, tractors and state police cars formed roadblocks. But in 1997 a community group put up a welcoming sign for visitors. The mood slowly changed. Unlike Bethel, the town of Woodstock made several efforts to cash in on its notoriety. In 2006 also Bethel’s stance changed. A Center of Arts opened in 2006 at the site of the 1969 Music and Art Fair. The town now embraces the festival. Efforts have begun to forge a link between Bethel and Woodstock. Too late. Even the children of the Woodstock generation are now in their 50s. The show ended without a cut for the local tourist industry.

Event tourism Woodstock
Find cheap accommodation near Woodstock. Click on the picture.

Event tourism Woodstock. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel News here.

Event Tourism: eSports

Event tourism eSports hits Genting, Malaysia | Parents are shocked, kids are in awe! Remember when your parents did not like seeing you traveling to Roskilde just to admire The Cure or Iggy Pop? Well, now you are a parent yourself, and you will have to eat this: A pretty hip version of event tourism was flying under the radar for a long time but made it big in recent years: eSports Tourism. Fans of Starcraft II, League of Legends, CS:G0 or Counter-Strike know what we are talking about. eSports events fill entire football stadiums. Latest destination: Genting in Malaysia. From January 23 to 28 the Arena of Stars at Resorts World Genting played host to 16 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams as they battled for a prize pool of whooping US$400,000.

Event tourism eSports Genting
eSports tourism is on the rise. Newest destination: Genting, Malaysia

One of the major driving forces behind this industry is the eSport Company Turtle Entertainment – organizer of events such as “Intel Extreme Masters” in Katowice (Poland, 2014) and “ESL One” in Frankfurt (Germany, 2015). The event at the Genting Arena of Stars was sold out – all 6,000 tickets gone within just 30 days of sale.

Who was coming? Predominately young digital natives, 16 to 26 years old and male. They are the prime target when it comes to eSports tourism. These customers are technology affine and as passionate about gaming as their parents were about U2. It is the 21st century version of social activity. Instead of going to the football stadium to watch Arsenal vs. Liverpool, kids fill an arena as big as Anfield to follow a battle between Fnatic and DC Dota2. Example: ESL One in Frankfurt (Germany) had an attendance of 52,000 people while the League of Legends World Final in Seoul (Korea) saw 45,000 fans filling the Sangam Stadium.

Genting is a Malaysian hill resort at an elevation of 1,740 metres (5,710 ft), one hour away from Kuala Lumpur. Turtle Entertainment did run this ESL One eSports event in the Genting Arena of Stars, part of a large casino chain with resorts and hotels.

Event tourism eSports Lanxess Arena
ESL One in Cologne 2015 at Lanxess Arena

Event tourism eSports. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | Read more about Event Tourism here. Header image source: RedBull.

Event Tourism Football Temples

Event Tourism Football Temples | Sport event tourism refers to those travelers who visit a location mainly to watch a sport event. The two events that attract the most tourist worldwide are the Olympics followed by the FIFA World Cup. But since both mentioned sports competitions only take place every four years, we have to look elsewhere to find the top 5 destinations for ‘regular’ sport events tourists.

Nothing to say against NBA, NFL or Cricket arenas, but football is clearly leading the way here. League matches in England, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Italy and Spain mobilize the biggest crowds. Die-hard fans travel long distances to see their favorite team loose on road games. If a football crazy city has nothing else to offer but a football stadium, it might even be listed at LonelyPlanet.com just for sports. Best examples are Manchester and Dortmund …

Event Tourism Football Temples: #1 Dortmund

Event tourism football temples Dortmund
Top 5 destinations for sports events tourists: Dortmund comes in at #1

The largest city of Germany’s Ruhrgebiet is a perfect example for being listed at LonelyPlanet.com as sports crazy. Dortmund was built on coal, steel and beer. But today mines are closed and steel mills are quiet. Only the breweries are going as strong as ever. There is no reason on earth to visit Dortmund, except you are the proud owner of a ticket for a home match of the BVB. All 81,000 seats in the Westfalen Stadion are always sold out long in advance. Your only chance to access the arena is by ordering an away-fan-seat via online ticket services of opponent teams. When visiting this Western German fortress, the word “Intimidating” fails to have a better synonym. Borussia Dortmund usually plays 17 league matches plus another 8 to 12 national and international cup matches on their home turf. Each time approx. 3,000 fans from opposing teams enjoy the monumental atmosphere in the Westfalen Stadium with goose bumps all over their bodies. The away section is housed within the central column of the ‘Nord Tribune’. Which means: away supporters aren’t confined to the corner as they so often are in football stadiums across Europe. Once you’ve had a glimpse of the famous ‘Yellow Wall’ you will be feeling very angry your club’s stadium hasn’t got anything like it. The noise level coming from the Yellow Wall will not stop letting you shiver.
In a 2009 article the Times hailed Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalen Stadium as the world’s best football arena. With every passing season, there’s been a growing consensus that this article might have been very much correct. The atmosphere is simply incredible. But other factors make it worth coming to Dortmunds football temple: terracing, availability of beer, moderate ticket prices, emphasis on putting the fans first. Sorry Premier League, you just lost.

Dortmund, Westfalen-Stadion capacity: 81.359
Sport event touristsfrom the opposing team per game: 3,000

#2 Manchester

Event tourism football temples Manchester
Top 5 Destinations for Sport Events Tourists: Manchester at #2.

On Premier League nights ManU grants up to 7,000 ticket to away fans. That’s by far the highest number we came across. For all other matches opposing teams settle with a max. 4,000 available seats. At Old Trafford Manchester United plays one to two games per season against rival Manchester City. That cuts the average a bit and makes the stadium loose to Dortmund. Also in recent years ManU dropped out of international competitions earlier than the BVB. But this seems to change in 2018 …

Manchester, Old Trafford capacity: 75,811
Sport event tourists from the opposing team per game: 4,000

#3 Barcelona

Event tourism football temples
Top 5 Destinations for Sport Events Tourists: Barcelona at #3.

One might think that Camp Nou in Barcelona gets the most sport event tourists flocking into the arena, simply because it’s the largest football arena in Europe, and C.F. Barcelona is freaking popular. Barca plays 18 league matches plus another 10 to 14 national and international cup matches on their home turf. Again that tops Dortmund numbers. But owning a stadium with a larger capacity (99,354) and playing so many games per year does not give Barcelona the edge. Unlike elsewhere in Europe, for football fans in Spain it is generally not so common to visit road games. Barca barely counts 2,000 sport event tourists per game. But well, luckily there are enough other reasons to come to Barcelona.

Barcelona, Camp Nou capacity: 99,354
Sport event tourists from the opposing team per game: 1,600

#4 Madrid

Event tourism football temples Madrid
Top 5 Destinations for Sport Events Tourists: Madrid

Stadio Bernabeu has a max. capacity of 81,000. That’s around about 18,000 behind Camp Nou. And usually there are also no more than 1,500 away-fan-tickets sold per game. Away fans are confined to a small section of seating within the fourth tier of the north-east corner of the stadium. Your can also call this “discrimination”. We are fine with it. At least for Champions League matches the size of the away section gets increased to 3,800 tickets.

Madrid, Bernabeu capacity: 81,044
Sport event tourists from the opposing team per game: 1,500

#5 Milan

Event tourism football temples Milan
Top 5 Destinations for Sport Events Tourists: Milan

Like Camp Nou and Bernabeu, San Siro looses a bit of sport-event-tourism-power simply due to the fact that one to two games per season need to be played against local rivals. Barca plays Espanol, Real plays Atletico, ManU plays ManCity, and AC Milan faces Inter Milan. In addition San Siro is no longer sold out nowadays. Still numbers of sport event tourists are impressive enough to settle this football playground at #4. Comes a Champions League match, AC Milan turns out to be very generous, reserving up to 5,200 tickets to away fans.

Milan, San Siro capacity: 81,277
Sport event tourists from the opposing team per game: 2,100

Event tourism football temples. By Chili & Churp | © International Destinations | more Travel Top Lists here.