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