A GOAL to more than double the number of Chinese visiting Rutherglen wineries has been set in response to a new federal government boost.
A $50 million package to foster wine exports and promote cellar door tourism was announced this week.
The Winemakers of Rutherglen chairwoman Belinda Chambers lauded the commitment.
“It’s a great opportunity for growth and the focus on new investment in tourism is most exciting for Rutherglen,” Mrs Chambers said.
She said Chinese tourists totalled 10 to 15 per cent of overseas visitors to the area and she believes with the package “there’s a great capacity to lift it to 40 per cent”.
China and the US will be the target of major marketing campaigns and state-based and competitive grants will be offered to attract international tourists.
A target of 40,000 more overseas visitors coming to Australia’s wine areas has been set.
Mrs Chambers said accommodation options and food offerings also needed a lift to attract more foreigners.
Fellow Rutherglen vigneron and Winemakers Federation of Australia board member Colin Campbell worked on the package with the government.
“It is to support the industry and make it a lot better than it is and return money to the government by stopping the rorts (linked to the wine equalisation tax) and stimulating export sales,” Mr Campbell said.
Mrs Chambers said 70 per cent of her 19 members already exported and she predicted that could rise to 90 per cent through making the process easier.
“If we were assisted with the tools to become export-ready we would give more consideration to exporting,” the Lake Moodemere Estate co-owner said.
The package aims for 15 to 17 per cent annual growth for exports to China through to 2021-22 and 6 per cent for the US.
Mr Campbell has been exporting to China for 15 years and the US for 30 years.
He has just appointed a second agent in China after having gone from supplying 2400 bottles annually to 24,000.
The US is seen as having scope for more growth.
“We lost a lot of ground in America about 2009 – the sales over there fell away pretty quickly,” Mr Campbell said.
“Our reputation went down to some degree and the dollar has a big effect on us, if it goes up you’re not competitive and the GFC – all those things have had an impact.”