Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Why it is crisis time in the Hunter Valley


While the Hunter Valley is once again welcoming visitors after the coronavirus shutdown, an uncertain future still looms large for many wine and tourism businesses in the region.

Amy Cooper, CEO of the Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association (HVWTA) reported that “figures released by the HVWTA reveal that Covid-19 has caused an $85 million loss to the Hunter Valley economy from March to May 2020". 

All businesses in the Hunter Valley’s wine and tourism industry have reported a significant reduction in revenue, with close to half of all businesses suffering a complete loss of income since Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in mid-March.

The tourism sector – accommodation, tour operators, activities & attractions, restaurants, cafes & bars – was hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Covid-19 decimated our economy, which was already devastated by drought and the summer bushfires," said Christina Tulloch, president of the HVWTA. 

"With an annual wine tourism economy valued at $557 million per annum, the running economic loss for the Hunter Valley is conservatively calculated at a staggering $160 million since the bushfires started in our region in November 2019. Our industry requires urgent protection and immediate assistance.” 

Hunter Valley Wine Country is the most visited wine destination in Australia, making it the nation’s most important wine tourism asset. 

The Hunter Valley is home to many iconic wine brands including Tyrrell's (above) and Brokenwood (below).
 

“Even with the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper support payment saving hundreds of jobs across our region; three out of four businesses have still had to decrease their staffing levels, with over half of all Hunter Valley businesses having reduced their teams by 50% or more," Cooper said. "Our industry needs certainty from Government about support beyond September. 

“A number of businesses have already made the incredibly difficult decision to permanently close. It’s a final heartbreaking call for people to let go of their livelihood, that they’ve invested years, if not decades in. 

"So it is deeply concerning that three out of four businesses are reporting that they are uncertain and not confident in their viability over the next 12 months. The future of our wine tourism industry is under threat.” 

The HVWTA currently receives no local, state or federal funding.

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