November 23, 2017

State Government pulls the pin on Gourmet Escape

The State Government has called time on Western Australia’s premium food and wine event by withdrawing funding for the Margaret River Gourmet Escape after 2018.

Shadow Minister for Tourism Libby Mettam said the Government’s decision to fund a new event to take in the Swan Valley was short sighted and would destroy the brand that had made the Margaret River Region an international food and wine destination.

“I’m certainly not saying don’t fund an event in the Swan Valley but why destroy what has already been created in the South West,” Ms Mettam said. “This year’s event was a resounding success with more than 60 international chefs and food experts at 50 events and 25 event locations.

“These global food and wine personalities not only put the Margaret River region on the world stage, they also build capacity and knowledge in our hospitality sector.”

Ms Mettam said the State Government’s decision would almost certainly lead to the event being relocated to another state.

“Victorian tourism operators have been eyeing the event for some time for the Mornington Peninsula and we have just handed it to them on a platter,” she said.

“The MRGE this year attracted more than 19,000 foodies and wine lovers, including interstate and international tourists, to the South West.

“It’s difficult to overstate how great it is for WA to have people like Asia’s best female chef May Chow (Little Bao, Hong Kong) join the long list of celebrity chefs, like Nigella Lawson, World class Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, Rick Stein, Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White headline this event and promote the Margaret River Region to the world.

“To have these 60 plus food and wine influencers, such as Asia’s best Chef promote this state to their own unique global audiences is invaluable.”

Since 2013, the MRGE has attracted over 90,000 direct visitors to the region, making more than 23,000 room night bookings. In 2016, the MRGE generated more than $9.5 million in local expenditure.

Ms Mettam said analysis showed the Government earned a 5:1 return on its investment in the event and Tourism Australia figures showed 36 per cent of international visitors to Australia were seeking good food and wine.

“This is an event our State cannot afford to lose to our Eastern States competitors,” she said. “Western Australia is a large state and needs a coordinated approach to tourism – not an incoherent plan that sees regions competing against each other.”

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