MAJOR EVENT GONE: Coronavirus made it impossible to run the Historic Leyburn Sprints, a major business drawcard for publicans Sam and Shane Toy.
MAJOR EVENT GONE: Coronavirus made it impossible to run the Historic Leyburn Sprints, a major business drawcard for publicans Sam and Shane Toy.

Sprints cancellation brings crushing blow to tourism

THE cancellation of the Historic Leyburn Sprints came as no surprise to local businesses however it is one that will have a lasting impact on the small town.

More than 15,000 people flock to the region for the annual two-day event, which draws competitors and spectators from right across Queensland and northern New South Wales.

The cancellation of the 25th event was no surprise to publican Shane Toy, however it’s a weekend he said the Royal Hotel Leyburn relied heavily on.

“As a publican, that’s our biggest week of the year by far,” he said.

“In a pub like this, where we don’t have pokies or gaming, it’s the (cash) injection you almost need.

“We don’t like to rely on it but it’s a great weekend.

“It’s a big loss; a loss for the town and a loss for the committee.”

Unable to quantify the exact figure of the Sprints weekend, Mr Toy said the impact would be felt across the whole business.

“It’s a great turnover for the pub,” he said.

“We have to put on 20 to 30 staff for the week and they get plenty of hours because (the pub) is going around the clock for four days.

“It’s a big weekend for everyone.”

The pub isn’t the only business feeling the crunch from the cancellation with Leyburn Timber Craft owner Tony Ninness preparing to the lack of foot traffic.

“Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t get busy,” he said.

“Everyone was hoping it would go ahead, but unless some miracle happened between now and then it wasn’t going to happen.

“Everyone is missing out on lots of things.”

While coronavirus restrictions are easing slowly, Mr Toy said the lack of major events and heading into the cooler months would make it difficult for the country pub.

“There’s going to be a lot of disappointed drivers and people who come to watch, not just the people from Leyburn,” he said.

“It’s just a yearly pilgrimage.

“This year though, at the end of the day, what the last couple of months have been like for hospitality and tourism is just a write off.

“We’re not going to come out of this quickly.”