The Economic Development Australia forum hosted by Coopers Brewery in Adelaide this month, highlighted the growing focus on beer tourism, and recognition that it is an increasingly viable market segment in Australia.
With Tourism Australia estimating there will be a 50 per cent increase in money spent on tourism in Australia by 2026-2027, which equates to roughly $151.4 billion, brewers are well placed to participate in that growth.
The forum, which examined the growth of craft brewing, its alignment with tourism and food, its impact on local urban or regional revitalisation and the creation of value to niche agriculture products, saw beer industry representatives attend from right across the country.
EDA South Australia Chairman Simon Millcock, said the growth of craft breweries is leading a new wave of tourism opportunities, much like winery tourism did in the 1970s and 80s.
However, while the wine industry was built on the hard work and dedication of Australia’s pioneering vignerons, official support from governments and tourism bodies was critical to its growth. Small breweries are only now starting to receive that sort of assistance and paralleled recognition.
Australian Capital Territory
Jonathan Kobus, Director of Visit Canberra and spokesperson for the Minister of Tourism and Special Events in the ACT, said that beer tourism is a relatively new but important tourism product for the ACT, within the mix of wineries and an increasing number of distilleries.
“Only a few years ago, the Wig & Pen and Zierholz Brewery, were the only local commercial craft brewers that tourists could visit,” Kobus said.
“But the arrival of Bentspoke Brewing Co in the popular Braddon ‘foodie strip’ in 2014 and more recently Capital Brewing Co in Fyshwick, has created a defined craft beer scene.”
“Importantly, the craft beer products are home grown, which appeals to the trend of visitors wanting to experience local produce rather than what they can drink anywhere.”
Kobus said that Canberra is experiencing all-time record numbers of domestic and international visitors.
“The diversity of experiences from cultural to nature-based food, wine and beer, all add to the destination’s reputation.”
Kobus points to Canberra’s annual Visitor Guide as one way his State is promoting the industry, with a section dedicated to its craft-beer scene.
“VisitCanberra promotes the craft beer scene as part of its food and drink offerings and way of showcasing new and vibrant aspects of a city undergoing renewal.”
“While we don’t a have a specific beer map on our website, we do list all the craft breweries on the VisitCanberra website and feature a dedicated craft brew itinerary.”
“We approach the marketing of our craft-beer scene in a similar way to how we market our wineries, by promoting the diversity of offerings and their proximity to other tourism experiences and well as beer and wine trails.”
“Like wine events, VisitCanberra promotes beer events on its website and to consumers through its various marketing channels.”
Kobus affirmed that the craft beer scene in Canberra has grown rapidly in the past few years. He cites Dave’s Beer Tours as one organisation to showcase the ACT’s homegrown products to visitors.
“The company offers a number of tours including the popular Canberra Explorer full day tour for the dedicated beer fan, the Capital 3 in 3, which showcases three craft breweries as well as the Capital Triple Treat, which takes in a brewery, winery and distillery,” Kobus explained.
New South Wales
New South Wales Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall, has also revealed some promising figures for the beer industry in his State.
“NSW vineyards have always been a huge part of the NSW food and wine story,” Marshall explained.
“However, recent data reveals that it’s about more than just wineries.”
“In 2017, NSW welcomed an estimated 164,000 domestic overnight visitors who experienced a NSW brewery or distillery, with these visitors contributing more than $180 million to the State’s economy.”
“Via our tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, the NSW Government promotes more than 300 different breweries and wineries on its website.”
“On top of this, our Regional Flagship Events Program also supports a wide range of food and drink festivals, which highlight some of the State’s best produce, wine and beer.”
Deputy Chief Executive Officer in the Department of Tourism and Culture for the Northern Territory Andrew Hopper said that the Territory’s approach to marketing beer experiences forms part of Tourism NT’s wider food and beverage marketing strategy.”
“Already, the Territory enjoys a number of local brewing companies tailoring stunning brews to the Red Centre and the tropics of the Top End,” Hopper explained.
Hopper highlighted Alice Springs Brewing Co, The Earth Sanctuary, One Mile Brewing Company and Six Tanks Brewing as the three breweries providing “Territorians” with locally-brewed beers.
“The Precinct at Darwin’s Waterfront combines all of the best together to provide 46 taps of craft beers and cider from across Australia, and the world.”
Queensland Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development Kate Jones told Brews News that beer tourism is a growing sector for the State.
“That’s why we’re committed to working with brewers to grow this sector in years to come,” Jones said.
“One thing is clear, visitors to Queensland are looking for unique experiences, it makes sense for us to work with craft brewers to make sure Queenslanders are in the best position to capitalise on the craft beer boom.”