The Gympie region growing as a food destination
GYMPIE is experiencing a growth in tourism and GourMAY, part of Eat Local Month, is an example of how this region is shaping its image as a food destination.
Destination Gympie Region tourism development manager Andrew Saunders said Gympie locals need to embrace their food culture.
"While Gympie GourMAY is a celebration of local food producers and their goods, the underlying message is for locals to support locals.
"As locals, in a rural/regional destination, we must support local farming families, and therefore become advocates of the produce.
"The community must embrace local food production and be a champion for it. It adds to community pride, social well-being and a more prosperous region.”
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Mr Saunders said local food producers are very important in the story telling of the region.
"The wonderful diverse products that grow (including waterways) in the region are matched by the diverse topography and geology and they all make a wonderful mix.
"The Gympie region is blessed with nature and authentic experiences and food is an integral part of this message. The region's food is one of its greatest assets.”
Tourism is a trends and statistics game and Mr Saunders put forward a good argument as to why Gympie should embrace food.
"One third of all tourism spending is on food. Tourism, Australia wide, is worth $120billion and $40billion of that is spent on food,” he said.
"For an international visitor, one of the top five motivators for travel is to experience local produce.
The question was raised as to whether or not Gympie could forge its name as a premier food region.
"Will the Gympie region ever become an Adelaide Hills? Basically no,” Mr Saunders said.
"There is a lack of wine appreciation. I am not saying that our friends in the South Burnett are not making good wines, currently they are just not respected enough (Australia wide) to be a real motivator and they are 90 minutes from here, so there is a geographical problem for starters.
"Additionally, many of the local farmers are just that, they grow crops, plants stuff etc. They have not got the time or resources to develop similar experiences.
"The region will establish its own position in the market and the best way to start is for more local restaurants to stock local produce. Many don't and it is very disappointing.
"Same too with locals embracing the Growers Market and buying local produce.
"It has to start from there before it can grow.”