Destination NSW defends Hunter Wine region work after criticism from Andrew Margan

Andrew Margan at his Hunter vineyard in 2015. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Andrew Margan at his Hunter vineyard in 2015. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The state’s tourism body has defended itself after heavy public criticism from a Hunter Valley wine region leader.

Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association vice president Andrew Margan slammed Destination NSW for a perceived lack of support for the Hunter’s wine tourism industry.

But Destination NSW says it “actively supports” the state’s food and wine sector.

Mr Margan said he believed South Australian wine regions, such as the Barossa Valley, received more support from their relevant state tourism bodies than the Hunter did.

“All the different wine tourism areas of South Australia are being assisted in major ways by the South Australian state government,” he said.

“They recognise the potential of wine tourism, how big it’s going, how big it can be and they are investing in it.”

Mr Margan said he had been working on the Hunter Valley brand for a decade, but the amount of financial help from the state had been “chicken feed for what we require”.

He believed funding from Destination NSW was granted on occasions with the understanding that the state body would take control of the initiative away from Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association.

“The Hunter Valley as a wine tourism region is the oldest wine tourism region in Australia and is one of the most popular,” he said.

“Basically they [Destination NSW] just keep rejecting our proposals. We’re just frustrated.”

A Destination NSW spokesperson said the body collaborated with Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association to implement an events campaign called It’s ON in NSW – Hunter Valley last year.

It has also provided money for events such as Snow Time in the Gardens and Sculpture in the Vineyards.

“Developing and promoting the wine sector remains a key focus for the NSW Government,” the spokesperson said. 

“In the year ended September 2016 NSW had more than 1.7 million overnight and day-trip visitors to the wine regions, and between them, the visitors spent almost $2 billion, significantly contributing to the state’s economy.

“In July 2016 the NSW Government announced a record $43 million will be spent on boosting regional tourism over four years. Destination NSW is an active member of the NSW Wine Industry Working Group, working with the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet in the development of the NSW Wine Strategy 2028.”

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