South Australia Shadow Minister for Tourism David Ridgway
Victor P Taffa
New Tourism Minister Leon Bignell has made a major blunder just weeks into his new job, Shadow Tourism Minister David Ridgway said.
“The Minister has changed the focus of Tasting Australia, which was becoming Australia’s leading food and wine event.” Mr. Ridgway said.
“Tens of thousands of South Australians and visitors from other states and around the world have been coming to Tasting Australia for over a decade.”
“Tasting Australia drew international food and wine writers and celebrity chefs, promoting South Australia in Asia, Europe and America.”
“Now Mr. Bignell, who seems to know nothing about the tourism industry or its importance to the economy, has signalled that he wants the event to be smaller, shorter, and less internationally focused.”
“This is completely at odds with the Government’s own Food and Wine Strategy, which promises that SA will be recognised as the world’s leading food and wine destination by 2020.”
“The world won’t recognise SA as the best food and wine destination unless we promote it internationally.”
“The Government’s aim should be to make Tasting Australia bigger, not smaller.”
“Will the Government next deliberately create a smaller tourism industry as well? The State Strategic Plan aims to make tourism a $6.3 Billion industry by 2014. Mr. Bignell will fail to reach that target.”
Last year the Government parted ways with Tasting Australia’s previous organisers, Ian Parmenter and his Consuming Passions organisation, despite Mr. Parmenter running the event since 1997 and making it an outstanding success.
At the time, Mr. Parmenter warned that the Government might downgrade or ‘dumb down’ the event.
“His fears, my fears, and South Australia’s fears have come true.” Mr. Ridgway said.
“Mr. Bignell has torn up the State’s food and wine strategy. Its first objective had been to integrate food and wine as a key theme in SA tourism campaigns. The second objective was to increase the range and appeal of SA’s innovative wine and food experiences.”
“Now Mr. Bignell wants to reinvent the wheel, but in doing so has run far off the track.” Mr. Ridgway said.