WEST Swan MLA Rita Saffioti has welcomed the McGowan Government’s proposal to investigate expanding WA’s flagship food and wine event to include the Swan Valley from 2019.
Late last month Tourism Minister Paul Papalia and Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced that with the current agreement for Margaret River Gourmet Escape, coming to an end, a review of the state’s investment in food and wine tourism would be conducted.
They said this would be done with the view of expanding the current festival to include not only Margaret River, but also the Swan Valley.
The review will involve stakeholder engagement involving the food and wine industry, tourism operators and local producers, followed by a request for proposal process, with the successful proposal expected to be announced in the first half of next year.
Ms Saffioti said she was excited by the prospect of the Swan Valley becoming part of WA’s premier annual food and wine event along with Margaret River in 2019.
“It will provide Swan Valley’s tourism operators and food and wine producers fantastic exposure on both a national and international level as a top class culinary destination,’’ she said.
“The Swan Valley is one of the oldest wine regions in the country and is home to a raft of expert producers of wine, fine cuisine and much more – making it a perfect candidate to be partner of the state’s premier food and wine event.”
Mr Papalia said the sponsorship contract with event owner IMG Culinary had been renewed for 12 months, with the seventh Margaret River Gourmet Escape to go ahead in November next year.
He said the Margaret River Gourmet Escape had helped grow the South West and cemented the state’s reputation as a culinary destination.
“The McGowan Government understands the value of events in supporting the State’s tourism outcomes, but we need to ensure these events drive interstate and international visitation in order to fill our hotel rooms, grow the economy and create jobs,’’ he said.
“We also want a clear strategy for food and wine festivals that enhances our trade and agricultural export outcomes.
“We want to ensure that the high-quality local food and wine at these events is readily available to be served on tables in China, Singapore, Japan and other key markets.”
Ms MacTiernan said Western Australia’s reputation for having fresh produce, premium wines and high-quality boutique beverages made the state a foodie’s paradise.
“Margaret River Gourmet Escape has helped cement that reputation,’’ she said.
“We are keen to extend the festival over a longer period and spread activities across other food and wine destinations to attract higher interstate and international visitation.”