Don’t di­lute gourmet event

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Letters - Libby Met­tam, Vasse MLA

Philip Kotler, re­garded as the founder of mod­ern ad­ver­tis­ing, said “the art of mar­ket­ing is the art of brand build­ing”.

Mod­ern tourism brand­ing is about cre­at­ing a brand vis­i­tors will ac­cept, be­come close to, and one which is fa­mil­iar and based on dis­tinc­tive vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ences.

The State Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to di­lute the Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape raises se­ri­ous ques­tions about the value of re­brand­ing a dis­tinc­tive, in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised event; one that has grown over the past seven years from a lo­cal food and wine fes­ti­val to a ma­jor tourism brand, recog­nised glob­ally.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­pan­sion of Swan Val­ley and Perth Hills tourism are, like Mar­garet River or the Kim­ber­ley, unique to their ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion.

To ask gourmet trav­ellers to ef­fec­tively choose be­tween this desti­na­tion and Mar­garet River in the hope of in­creas­ing vis­i­tor overnight stays is short-sighted.

The MRGE has a global reach of over 115 mil­lion peo­ple, mostly through so­cial me­dia, which trans­lates into $6.5 mil­lion in global brand aware­ness, not only for the Mar­garet River re­gion, but for WA as well. On a lo­cal level, MRGE brings in over 23,000 room nights, and $7.8 mil­lion in ex­pen­di­ture over four days.

Ex­pand­ing to 10 days on suc­ces­sive week­ends in the South West and Swan Val­ley will at best di­lute num­bers and vis­i­tor spend.

There is great po­ten­tial to es­tab­lish an­other dis­tinc­tive event, or build on the ex­ist­ing gourmet En­twined in the Val­ley.

It’s also im­por­tant to note that $7 mil­lion of the events fund­ing in last year’s State Bud­get was un­spent. We should be spend­ing ev­ery cent of this bud­get to de­velop sep­a­rate events.

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