International visitor numbers to Limestone Coast wine regions are expected to increase after a unique wine trail proposal received a major federal funding boost.

The Turnbull Government will pour $175,000 from its International Wine Tourism Competitive Grants Program into the project to develop ‘Mixed Dozen Interactive Wine Trails’ that traverse both sides of the SA-Vic border. The funding will be matched dollar-for-dollar with a $125,000 grant from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA and $50,000 of local stakeholder money.

Tourism Industry Development Manager, Biddie Shearing, said it’s the largest amount of funding to be allocated to the region for a single tourism initiative in more than a decade.

“This is a really significant opportunity to expand and enhance our unique wine tourism experiences, and grow the reputation of Australia’s food and wine abroad,” she said.

The Mixed Dozen Interactive Wine Trails will target visitors from China and the USA in particular, and will feature a central consumer tool or website that promotes tailored experiences designed to increase length of stay and maximise tourism expenditure. The initiative was developed by the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council with the support of Wine Australia. Project chair, Peter Bissell, said it’s unique because it will pitch wine producers from two neighbouring states as a combined attraction.

“We have enlisted 12 stakeholders – including all the wine zones in the Limestone Coast plus the Henty and Grampians regions across the border – to join forces to build a digital tool to help attract and disperse international wine travellers across the region,” he explained. “This represents a whole new level of collaboration across the region and with our Victorian neighbours, and we have secured strong support from local government leaders and industry bodies.”

The cross-border partnership will generate a seamless overlap with the well-established Melbourne to Adelaide Touring Route – one of Australia’s most prolific self-drive itineraries. The aim is to entice visitors beyond popular attractions like the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians and Kangaroo Island by offering a range of compelling experiences relating to wine.

“We have a depth of variety in terms of wine and wine experiences and all within a short drive or in some cases walk of each other,” Mr Bissell said. “For example, there could be a ‘Coastal Trail’ that links coastal terroir with wine varieties and seafood experiences, or we could highlight Coonawarra and the adjacent Penola and Glenroy Conservation Park walks, or the World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves nestled in the heart of the Wrattonbully Wine region, which contain a wealth of information about regional geology.”

The Federal Member for Barker, Tony Pasin, has described the grant as “great news for local producers and the local economy”. “By enhancing the wine tourism experiences of international visitors, we are helping grow wine exports and further bolstering the Limestone Coast’s excellent wine reputation at an international level,” he said.

 A project manager and local steering committee will oversee the initiative, with hopes the trail experiences will be firmly entrenched in travellers’ itineraries by mid-2020.

For further comment please contact Peter Bissell, chairman, Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council 0427 852 315