The Gourmet Escape plans to expand to include Swan Valley from 2019

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE Gourmet Escape, WA’s premier food and wine event, is set to grow in 2019, with plans to expand the event to include the Swan Valley.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia announced last week that the Margaret River event would be back for 2018, and that the State Government would review the event with plans to expand the festival over two weeks and include Swan Valley events.

Swan Valley & Regional Winemakers Association president Yuri Berns said the announcement was fantastic news for the Swan Valley.

“Having an event like this in the Swan Valley would create awareness of the region to people around WA, interstate and internationally,” he said.

“Not only does the Swan Valley have fantastic wineries and restaurants, but we also have a long history of culture.

“An event like Gourmet Escape would also highlight the wonderful market gardeners and produce we have in the region.”

The announcement has caused concern for stakeholders in Margaret River, who are worried that including the Swan Valley would reduce visitor numbers in the south west.

However, Mr Berns said the regions were very different.

“Expanding the Swan Valley into this event will only help grow its success,” he said. “The two regions are very different and do not offer the same when it comes to the food, wine or facilities.

“I have confidence in the State Government will work out how to bring the event together and make sure both regions benefit.”

Minister Papalia said the expanded event would also have a focus on produce and opportunities for agricultural export.

“We also want a clear strategy for food and wine festivals that enhance our trade and agricultural export outcomes,” he said.

“We want to ensure that the high quality local food and wine at these events is readily available to be served in China, Singapore, Japan and other key markets.”

West Swan MP Rita Saffioti said she was excited about the prospect to include the Swan Valley.

“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 the perfect candidate to be a partner of the state’s premier food and wine event.”

City of Swan acting chief executive Mark Bishop said the event would aid current events by the City like Entwined in the Valley.

“We welcome the State Government’s announcement and hope to work with them, as well as industry and tourism bodies, to further explore the opportunity,” he said.

“The City’s events, including Entwined, offer experiences that are different to those at Gourmet Escape. If the event does expand to the Swan Valley in 2019, we believe it would not only help promote the region, but the City’s future events by increasing the region’s profile.”

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