GIPPSLAND agritourism has been given a boost by a new strategy developed by Destination Gippsland and Food and Fibre Gippsland.

The recently completed Towards 2030 Gippsland Food, Drink & Agritourism Strategy aims to position Gippsland as the go-to epicurean travel destination in Australia by 2030, celebrated for its diverse, distinct, and authentic food, drink and agritourism encounters. The strategy is one of the recommended outcomes of the Gippsland Destination Management Plan 2022.

This strategy focuses on enhancing exposure for Gippsland, consolidating visitor conversion, and creating appealing and immersive food, drink and agritourism experiences to drive a greater contribution to the region’s overall visitor economy in a sustainable way.

Destination Gippsland’s chief executive, Terry Robinson, said Gippsland is a key agricultural region in Victoria.

“We are thrilled to be able to deliver our strategic findings in this document, to assist the region to realise our growth potential in this important experiential sector,” he said.

Ben Gebert, the chief executive of Food and Fibre Gippsland, added: “The broad food and fibre production profile of the Gippsland region, coupled with our natural assets and curated experiences, make for an ideal food and drink visitation destination.”

The state government’s roadmap for growth, Experience Victoria 2033 has identified food and drink products and experiences as key to maximising Victoria’s tourism growth plans over the next ten years.

Mr Robinson said Wellington’s visitor economy performed strongly in the last 12 months.

“Visitation was up 25 per cent to 984,000 for the Y/E December 2023, visitor nights up 61 per cent to 1.5 million nights, and visitor expenditure up 38 per cent to $255 million,” he said.

“We don’t have any specifics on which businesses or towns attracted the most but fair to say growth would have been experienced across the board.”

Mr Robinson encouraged locals and tourists to check out the new businesses in Wellington.

“There are several fantastic new agribusinesses in the Wellington Shire region, including Maffco Brewery & Distillery in Maffra, which is a brewery in a renovated 100-year-old milk factory that has a new farm-to-fork restaurant using all locally sourced produce, including beef and pork from their own farm,” he said.

“Also in Maffra, The Berry Dairy is a family owned and operated dairy and strawberry farm, which enables visitors to connect with their product through the onsite cafĂ© and seasonal strawberry picking. Near Stratford, Dalrose Farm grow ethically raised, grass fed beef, they’ve added an agritourism experience with the opening of their on-farm accommodation, Dalrose Farm Retreat. They also work closely with local producers, encouraging guests to purchase local products in the accommodation during their stay.

“Agritourism is not always farm-based, another example is the new owners of the Port Albert Fish & Chip Co, who serve locally caught seafood from their own family’s fishing fleet.”

Gippsland is one of the first regions in Victoria to complete an in-depth strategy and action plan to guide and enable primary producers to diversify for visitors to enjoy our first-class produce. The document also supports the National Agritourism Strategy, launched in 2022 and developed by Australian Regional Tourism.