THE recent Real Food Festival attracted more than 8500 people and busy weekends for businesses in the main street of Maleny, a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting revealed.
More than $58,000 was withdrawn from the two ATMs at the festival site over two days, with the extra day at this year's event proving to be a successful decision as visitor numbers almost doubled.
Event organiser Julie Shelton said she had received positive feedback not only from visitors, but sponsors and stall holders, who were already looking to return next year.
"This year, having the festival over two days, we've proved we've made it accessible to people who couldn't otherwise come on one day," she said.
"It's brought a lot of people to the region and to the area who haven't yet been here before," she said.
"It's really flagged us as a tourism destination using food tourism as a focal point."
Looking to the future Mrs Shelton said the committee intended to work with council and the state government to use the weekend as a way of developing Coast food businesses.
"We want to use the festival as a vehicle for industry capacity building to build on enterprise at a regional level," she said.
"We intend to work with agencies to help industries raise the bar in future.
"That way it will become not only a food tourism event, but a food industry development event."
She said a major achievement to come out of the event was regional retailers looking to link up with local producers.
"We've been approached by Coast retailers who want a list of local food produce businesses so that they can start stocking more local produce," she said.
"That was one of our overarching goals, and I'm glad we achieved it this year."