Figures released today by the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association reveals the Hunter Valley Wine Country economy and industry is suffering as a result of the recent quadruple threat of drought, bushfires, smoke taint and now Covid-19. A conservative calculation puts the current economic loss to the visitor economy at $76M for the Nov 2019 - Mar 2020 period.
“The annual tonnage of grapes harvested and made into wine in the Hunter Valley in 2020 is down significantly due to smoke taint, with 80% of industry in the region reporting they had picked less than 50% of their crop compared to the previous vintage. Within this, an additional 43% have picked less than 80% of their crop compared to last year,” says Amy Cooper, CEO of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association (HVWTA).
Hunter Valley Wine Country is valued at $557M per annum, employs 2,800 people, representing $104m in wages annually. Wine tourism represents 63% and wine making and viticulture 37%. In the last 3 month (Jan – Mar 2020) period, 82% of industry in the region reported a loss in revenue. Collectively, this is a loss of over $41M to the Wine Country economy during this period alone. 1 in 5 businesses indicated their visitations were down by more than 60%.
The Hunter Valley attracts 1.4m visitors annually, and the HVWTA represents over 130 wine producers, 2300Ha of vineyards, 27 restaurants and bars, 57 tourism attractions and over 128 accommodation and conferencing facilities.
The tourism sector – encompassing accommodation, tour operators, activities & attractions, restaurants, cafes and bars – has been worst hit in March and in forward bookings, with over 50% of businesses in this sector forecasting visitation to be down more than 40% for the whole Mar – Nov 2020 period.
“Hunter Valley Wine Country is Australia’s oldest wine region at 192 years old, it is an internationally and domestic significant destination and economy that needs protection and assistance,” says Ms Cooper.
“The HVWTA currently receives no local, state or federal funding. We are a membership-funded organisation, wholly responsible for the destination marketing of the most visited wine region in Australia and second most visited destination in NSW outside of Sydney,” said Ms Cooper.
Photo reference (from left): Chris Tyrrell (HVWTA Board Director), General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK CVO MC (BizRebuild Chairman), Fay McGuigan (Hunter Valley Legend), Brian McGuigan AM (HVWTA Vice President) and Stewart Ewan (HVWTA Board Director).
For further information or comment, please contact Amy Cooper, CEO, Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association. Ph: 02 4990 0900 or 0419 090 631.