price hike | 

Ticket prices to rise as summer festivals and events face enormous insurance costs

Event organisers have indicated customers are likely to be hit in the pocketA handful of arts festivals have already been cancelled this year, with organisers citing insurance issues
Richie O'Hara, owner of Baysports in Athlone, Co Roscommon. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Richie O'Hara, owner of Baysports in Athlone, Co Roscommon. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Amy Molloy

Ticket prices for summer festivals and shows are set to rise because of soaring insurance premiums and rocketing expenses.

Event organisers have indicated customers are likely to be hit in the pocket, with entry fees increasing by up to €10 in some cases.

Agricultural shows have faced insurance premiums increasing by as much as 25pc, while festivals have also seen a huge spike in running costs.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform said tourism, hospitality, entertainment and leisure businesses that survived the pandemic were now being hit on average with a 16pc increase in premiums.

From six-figure insurance premiums to the cost of hiring marquees nearly doubling, it is expected to be an expensive summer for events and businesses trying to recover from Covid-19.

A handful of arts festivals have already been cancelled this year, with organisers citing insurance issues.

Some agricultural shows confirmed entry prices are likely to rise by between €5 and €10.

National secretary of the Irish Shows Association Jim Harrison said insurance and general costs had increased substantially for its 133 affiliated agricultural shows.

“Public liability insurance is the problem, it’s up about 25pc, but everything has gone up around the same including marquees, portaloos, sound equipment and even the hiring of crowd control barriers,” he said.

“The price of entry to the shows could be a problem, with the price of diesel and the price of meal to feed cattle going up.

“It would be hard for the exhibitor to feed animals, get them into show condition and then to the show itself – and that has to be factored in.”

Mr Harrison said shows were likely to need to pass on costs in terms of ticket prices, but insisted: “You’re probably only talking a couple of quid.”

Executive director of the Association of Irish Festival Events Colm Croffy said some festivals with live animals or circus skills had been unable to get any insurance.

“The insurance – where it can be bought – is more limited, has more restrictions and can be very expensive,” he said.

He also fears that attendance at events may be affected by the rising cost of inflation.

“There was a splurge around Christmas when people were throwing €25 at tickets, but everyone has had two oil and electricity bills since then,” he said.

Meanwhile, organisers of community festivals have had to reduce the array of events on offer in a bid to reduce costs – and to get insurance cover.

The Ballina Salmon Festival in Co Mayo, which attracts around 200,000 visitors from around the world, made headlines when it was cancelled in 2019 after its insurance premium quadrupled.

Activities this year have had to be seriously curtailed to lower the premium.

“Gone are the days of go-karts, water activities and anything with any hint of risk as you haven’t a hope in hell of getting covered,” said Mags Martin, of the Ballina Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses in the leisure and adventure industries were closed for long spells during the Covid-19 pandemic. They too have been hit with surging premiums.

While the majority have managed to get cover for this summer, it has come at a huge price.

Richie O’Hara, director of Baysports in Athlone, Co Roscommon, has an insurance bill of €102,000.

Baysports offers an inflatable aqua park and water-based activities and trades only between April and October. Despite this, Mr O’Hara still has to pay €10,000 towards his insurance premium every month. There is also an excess of €10,000 on every claim.

“I’ve been in the adventure tourism business for over 40 years and we’ve a solid track record,” Mr O’Hara said.

“I recognise first of all, people are entitled to be looked after, which we strive to do, and they’re entitled to make a claim if they feel they have been wrongly done by, but in the last 10 years I’ve noticed an increase in people willing to try and make a claim and get some money for things that weren’t our fault.

“In 2015, our premium was €7,798. This year we’re paying €102,000."

Mr O’Hara said he had installed security cameras that had helped his business successfully defend claims.

“You have situations where somebody says one thing happened, but then you look back on the camera and that’s not what happened at all,” he said.

“We have one claim outstanding since 2014 after a child cut their knee and that still impacts your policy every year. Rebalancing the duty of care is critical as not many businesses can keep going like this,” he added.


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