Former Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson has been appointed chairman of the Clare Valley Wine & Grape Association.
The choice of the high-profile Melbourne-based Ferguson is a deliberate move by the Association to lure more east-coast domestic wine tourists and attract luxury accommodation to the region.
Born in Sydney, Mr Ferguson currently chairs the Tourism Accommodation Association of Australia and the CVWGA Board is targeting high-value travellers as a key strategy in its efforts to gain a larger slice of the lucrative (and growing) global premium food and wine tourism market.
“The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and a place with genuine character and authenticity. I understand the ambitions and determination for sustainable economic growth through a premium wine export strategy and attracting more high-value travellers,” Mr Ferguson says.
“The Clare Valley has a lot of potential, but the fact is our visitor expenditure is last out of 11 South Australian regions. An immediate opportunity is for us to better link with the Outback and Flinders Ranges, which has more than four times the visitor expenditure. No other wine region in Australia adjoins the Outback.
“We have much to do, but I am passionate about regions and wine, food and tourism – they just go so obviously hand in hand. I’m looking forward to meeting members at the Langton’s Clare Valley Wine Show on 11 October and getting these plans started.”
In another key move, the CVWGA Board has also elected Kilikanoon managing director Warrick Duthy as its deputy chairman.
Mr Duthy joined the Board at last month’s AGM and says netting Mr Ferguson was a “huge coup”.
“Martin Ferguson remains one of Australia’s highest profile regional ambassadors, it’s a role he relishes and enjoys. His network alone was reason enough to appoint him – our grapegrower and winemaker members will enjoy his personable approach,” Mr Duthy says.
Mr Ferguson is strategic director of Natural Resources at Kerry Stokes’ SGH Energy. He was president of the ACTU from 1990-96, and the Federal Member for Batman (Melbourne) from 1996- 2013. He was Federal Tourism Minister from 2007-13. From 2014-16 he was a non-executive director of British Gas (London) before its takeover by Shell. He is chairman of the Tourism Accommodation Association of Australia, the CO2CRC and the advisory board of APPEA, the Australian oil and gas peak association.
Photo: Clare Valley Wine & Grape Association board members Alister Sandow (left) and Olivia Hoffmann-Barry welcome Martin Ferguson as the organisation’s new chairman.