Who’s hitchhiking with you? That’s the question wine tourists in South Australia are being asked, as part of a new Vinehealth Australia campaign launched this month at Angove Family Winemakers in McLaren Vale, by Minister for Tourism, Leon Bignell MP.

The campaign sees Phil, a human-sized yellow phylloxera bug, hitching a ride from vineyard to vineyard with various groups of tourists. Click here to view and share the campaign video.

In reality, phylloxera is a tiny pest that can be picked up by tourists and spread on tyres, shoes, clothes and equipment. And while phylloxera is present in other parts of Australia, South Australia is proudly phylloxera free.

“Our campaign asks tourists not to let Phil the phylloxera bug and his nasty pest friends hitchhike with them. We’re asking tourists not to walk or drive close to vines or down vine rows. Stick to the roads and paths,” said Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Pearce.

Increased global and national trade and tourism means increased pest and disease risk. In the 12 months to September 2017, total tourism expenditure in SA grew to a record high $6.3 billion, led by international expenditure, up 13 percent (source: SATC).

Pest and disease incursions are also on the rise. There was a doubling in the number of exotic plant pest incursions in Australia in the past seven years. And phylloxera is being detected in more vineyards in Victoria.
And research commissioned by Vinehealth Australia in 2017 showed that 44% of female visitors and 28% of male visitors to wine regions expect to be able to take photos amongst the vines as part of their wine tourism experience.

‘Who’s Hitchhiking With You?’ is part of a broader Responsible Visitation Campaign, developed by Vinehealth Australia, which also includes:

  1. A Wine Tourism Biosecurity Training Program for South Australian cellar door, marketing and tourism staff in wine regions, to arm them with knowledge and tools for keeping vines healthy. To book your spot in a training session, contact training manager Rebecca Weatherill via email at training@vinehealth.com.au or phone 8273 0550.
  2. Tourist-friendly signage for cellar doors, to educate visitors about their role in keeping vines healthy. To order signs click here.
  3. The creation of six ‘best practice’ cellar door sites in South Australian wine regions featuring the new tourist signage, and Cellar Door Kits with footwear disinfestation equipment, sturdy disposable shoe covers, rubber boots and educational materials. The cellar doors are Skillogalee Wines in the Clare Valley, Charles Melton in the Barossa Valley, Golding Wines in the Adelaide Hills, Angove Family Winemakers in McLaren Vale, Bremerton in Langhorne Creek and Zema Estate in Coonawarra.

The campaign is funded by Vinehealth Australia and Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), with additional support from the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA).

Vinehealth Australia is now working with the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) to explore opportunities to roll out the Wine Tourism Biosecurity Program nationally.

For more information about the Responsible Visitation Program click here and here.