THE numbers are in and Rally Australia is so buoyed by the success of its World Rally Championship round it is preparing a business plan to win the event back to the Coffs Coast.

Ticket sales have indicated the four days of Rally Australia events attracted a total spectator count of 86,000.

That figure accounts for repeat visits by fans to the three nights of super special stages at the harbour, the 20 stages on forested and bush tracks, the Rally Show in the city centre, the public exhibition of the service park at the airport and the podium presentation.

Rally Australia general manager Michael Masi said tickets sold above expectations and the Coffs Coast round had proven more successful than the Repco Rally Australia in Tweed Heads in 2009.

"We will get an idea of how many people travelled to the Coffs Coast for Rally Australia when a postcode report is completed by the end of the week by Destination NSW, which will also gauge the projected economic benefit to the local economy," Mr Masi said.

"At this stage the feedback from the teams, manufacturers and drivers is extremely positive, North One (the WRC television production company) loved the Coffs Coast as a setting and the way the community embraced the rally."

With the Southern Hemisphere round of the WRC moving to New Zealand next year, Rally Australia is stating its case to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) as to why a round of the WRC should return to the Coffs Coast in 2013.

Mr Masi said a long-term future is the only way the event can grow to become synonymous with the Coffs Coast and draw larger crowds in years to come.

Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce past president Peter Lubans praised the support shown to the rally by local businesses, but also echoed the disappointment some business owners have raised.

"As our city returns to normal as the influx of spectators and participants of the World Rally Championships depart for places far and wide, your chamber would like to thank all those businesses and supporters who, despite the initial inclement weather, embraced the opportunity to showcase Coffs Harbour," Mr Lubans said.

"Whilst it appears that the forecast number of spectators did not eventuate, early indications are that many businesses also failed to reap the promised benefits.

"There may be many reasons for this and I understand Jetty and Harbour businesses will be meeting to evaluate the event's success."



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