Tourism vi­sion for River­land

The Advertiser - - NEWS - PAULA THOMPSON RE­GIONAL ED­I­TOR

A NEW $19 mil­lion six-star River­land wine and food cen­tre would cre­ate up to 145 jobs and boost tourism spend­ing in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to an in­de­pen­dent busi­ness case re­leased yes­ter­day.

Agribusi­ness con­sul­tancy Ernst and Young was en­gaged by the State Govern­ment to ful­fil an elec­tion com­mit­ment to un­der­take a fea­si­bil­ity study into a River­land wine and food at­trac­tion.

The re­port out­lines some po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions for the cen­tre, in­clud­ing Barmera, Berri, Glos­sop, Loxton and Ren­mark.

De­spite the re­gion ac­count­ing for more than a quar­ter of Aus­tralia’s wine grape pro­pro­duc­ers duc­tion, the busi­ness case found vis­it­ing a win­ery was only the 10th most pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity for do­mes­tic vis­i­tors to the River­land.

Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia Mur­ray­lands and River­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Fee said a wine cen­tre would have enor­mous ben­e­fits for and the tourism sec­tor.

“It puts the big­gest wine­pro­duc­ing re­gion in Aus­tralia on the map,” he said.

“We’re of­ten seen as poor cousins to places like the Barossa or the Hunter Val­ley but we’re a re­ally im­por­tant and de­vel­op­ing re­gion.

“It (the cen­tre) would al­most be like putting a stake in the ground and say­ing ‘We are worth vis­it­ing for our wine and food ex­pe­ri­ences’.”

Mr Fee said if a cen­tre went ahead it would help to lift com­mu­nity spir­its in the wake of the COVID-19 cri­sis.

Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Tim Whet­stone said ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion was un­der­taken with key stake­hold­ers dur­ing the busi­ness case process.

“The feed­back from stake­hold­ers was the River­land needs more recog­ni­tion and rep­u­ta­tion for the qual­ity of food and bev­er­ages be­ing pro­duced, a greater fo­cal point to at­tract vis­i­tors and a more co­or­di­nated ap­proach,” he said.

“We have seen what the d’Aren­berg Cube has done for McLaren Vale vis­i­tor num­bers.

“A des­ti­na­tion ex­pe­ri­ence like the wine and food cen­tre would not only at­tract tourists, but pro­vide spin-offs to the many other wonderful at­trac­tions in the re­gion.

“A project like this would pro­file the best of the River­land’s food and bev­er­ages and also spot­light the his­tory of our wine sec­tor in a unique way.”

Con­struc­tion of the cen­tre would cre­ate up to 117 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs for the River­land, with up to 28 ad­di­tional on­go­ing jobs.

There is no Govern­ment fund­ing at­tached to the project at this stage but Mr Whet­stone said he would work with po­ten­tial in­vestors to try to get it off the ground.

Pic­tures: SUP­PLIED

WINE AND DINE: Artist im­pres­sions of a pro­posed River­land wine and food cen­tre, which would rely on pri­vate in­vest­ment.

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