by Naomi Neoh | September 11, 2018
Last year's edition of Margaret River Gourmet Escape attracted more than 19,000 visitors.
Western Australia is shedding its sleepy image as one of the region's largest culinary and wine festival Margaret River Gourmet Escape returns for its seventh edition from November 16-18, having seen year-on-year growth for the past two years.

During a media event in Singapore on Monday, festival organisers IMG Events unveiled a new supper event headlined by Nigella Lawson as well as additional tickets for several popular events that have previously sold out.

Speaking at the event, Western Australian Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the festival has "elevated Western Australia as a premium food and wine destination." 

Since its inception in 2012, the festival has grown from nearly 10,000 visitors to 19,074 last year, according to Katrina King, IMG Events' Director, Culinary. In 2016, the festival attracted 18,786 and generated nearly A$9.1 million. Singapore, UK, USA, Malaysia and Hong Kong are among the top five source of arrivals to the festival.

This year, visitors can look forward to more than 45 food and wine events across 25 locations, with diverse offerings from a pop-up Mexican Cantina to an intimate traditional Japanese dining experience. 

On November 17, visitors will be able to sample a decadent menu of Nigella's famous late night eats and a Q&A opportunity hosted by Australian television personality Kate Langbroek. Tickets for the event are on sale now at $250 per person (plus booking fee), which includes a pre-signed copy of Nigella's cookbook, 'At My Table'.

The festival will also feature culinary stars such as Rick Stein, Skye Gyngell, James Lowe, Julien Royer and Niki Nakayama, as well as Australia's best culinary talent such as Guy Grossi, Luke Mangan and Guillaume Brahimi. 

Popularity for the Western Australia is growing, with nearly one in four Singaporeans visiting the region. In Perth, new developments such as the Elizabeth Quay, Yagan Square and the arrival of international hotel brands DoubleTree by Hilton, The Ritz-Carlton and Crown Towers are revitalising the destination. Opening next to the airport is a new factory outlet, Direct Factory Outlet.

Dynasty Travel International's Alicia Seah, director, public relations and communications revealed that the demand for Australia has seen a steady growth of between 5-10% over the past five to eight years. Improved connectivity and the opening up of new destinations like Broome, a three-and-a-half flight from Singapore, are reasons behind the destination's 'evergreen' appeal for Singaporean travellers.

The recent development of low-cost carriers is creating demand for Australia as a last-minute weekend getaway destination for Singaporean travellers, observed Margaret Soh, director of business development at Fascinating Holidays. The recent favourable currency rates and easy online visa approvals are also driving factors behind the increase in uptake in free and easy holidays to Australia.

To promote the festival, Chan Brothers, a Singapore-based travel agent, has unveiled a special return fare to Perth priced at S$540. Singapore Airlines is the official airline for the festival.

Located three-hour drive south of Perth, Margaret River is ranked among the world's most famous wine regions and is home to 217 vineyards and 187 wineries.