LOCAL tourism leaders in recent weeks have suggested farmers should be more aware of the potential within the Riverina food bowl by opening up their properties to tourists from overseas and our capital cities.
Leeton's Tracey Valenzisi said Riverina's status as the national food bowl was still undersold; Riverina Regional Tourism's chairman, Greg Lawrence said farmers have to realise there were golden opportunities by opening up their properties to tourists.
John Collins, also from Leeton, an agritourism advocate who owns Agricultural Tours Riverina, said there was growing interest in the nation's food bowl status.
David Bardos, the NSW Manager for the Port of Melbourne, told me this week few people realised the enormous export trade from the Riverina.
Now, a Wagga man has sown the seeds with Wagga City Council for establishing a tourist attraction based on the food bowl's potential.
John D'Anvers, a retired quantity surveyor and project manager, believes more emphasis should be directed to explaining the food-growing processes to city based (and overseas) tourists - and, it could be added, for local students.
D'Anvers wants council to consider setting up a purpose-built theatrette attached to the Tourist Information Centre or using the Civic Theatre or Botanic Gardens.
Subject matters would include how canola, wheat, grapes (and other crops) were sown, grown, harvested and marketed); how wine was made plus the sheep and beef production industries.
D'Anvers said the methodology for establishing the tourist attraction could be based on some of the successful tourism projects at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat; CSU students could be involved by producing films and videos. D'Anvers said while his were basic thoughts he felt if there was sufficient interest then a "brainstorming" session between the council, CSU, Committee4Wagga and Riverina regional tourism leaders was worth having.
Collins has said the tourism market needs more attention and part of it goes back to the farm gate. Collins reckons farmers have not realised the potential source of income from agritourism.
Valenzisi said the region's businesses needed to set aside their differences and work together for the "greater good" of agritourism. That is a fair call; perhaps the opponents of the Tumbarumba rail trail proposal might also consider her call and seek to resolve their issues with the proponents.
Who knows, there is probably a win-win situation for all. As Valenzisi noted: "Tourists need a range of rolling activities to keep them in the area and, importantly, spending money".
FOOTNOTE: The great story that is the Riverina food bowl's export potential is a compelling reason for the Inland Freight Rail route to be elevated to the status of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and started without political delay.