Marketing wine tourism in the Pyrenees to recreational vehicles is the next step for the Beaufort Progress Association in preparation for bypass.
The association is working to create a two week winery tour for RVs in November, combining wine marketing with efforts to capture grey nomad tourists. The event would form a part of a movement to raise the profile of the Pyrenees wine region and promote Beaufort as a tourist destination in the lead up to the Western Highway bypass.
Beaufort Progress Association member Heather McCracken said the idea of the RV wine tour followed moves to make Beaufort an RV friendly town. A free dump point was installed in Beaufort in July last year which is promoted with a free overnight parking site.
"I saw towns benefited from having those facilities that are of a fairly low infrastructure cost to put in. Stawell in particular is benefiting hugely from it," Ms McCracken said.
"In my research I asked a man who was stopped at the free dump point in Ararat how much did he think he spent on average when he called into a town. He said they had spent $997 in Ararat in two days. Travellers are now coming to Beaufort to empty their van, fill up on groceries and go to the chemist and the butcher.
"The mantra of the grey nomad sector is 'if a town looks after us, we will look after the town'."
Newly developed tourism plans for the Pyrenees Region show food and wine offerings are a growing tourism opportunity. The Grampians Pyrenees Wine Tourism and Culinary Masterplan 2017-2020 positions wine and food as the current tourism focus for the region, focusing on the idea of wineries as a tourism business rather than simply offering a high quality product. But there is no mention of capturing RV tourists, a market Beaufort Tourism Association president Liza Robinson views as an untapped potential for the wine region in the Pyrenees.
"I have just returned from South California. The amount of RVs in the wine regions there showed me the potential of that market," she said.
Beaufort Progress Association treasurer Jane Goninon, who is also the owner of Mountainside Wines, is preparing information about wineries that are 'RV friendly', meaning they have space to park overnight and large vehicles to turn around during the November event.
"The region is close to Melbourne to be able to enjoy time away without hours in the car and the RV owners will have the ability for them to cook for themselves and stay the night at wineries in their vans while meeting the winemakers and hearing about their philosophies," she said. "This is a model we haven't seen anywhere else."