Tourism Events Queensland withdraws foodie fest funding

SHERATON Noosa owners have pulled out of their role in running the Noosa Food and Wine Festival in May, causing the withdrawal of funding from Tourism Events Queensland.

Noosa Pacific Hotel Pty Ltd, landlord to Sheraton Noosa, successfully gained funding to run the festival late last year from both Tourism Noosa and Tourism Events Queensland.

This followed the collapse of the company behind previous festivals, Noosa Food and Wine Events, directed by restaurateur Jim Berardo.

While Tourism Noosa agreed to take on the new festival under the leadership of Noosa Food and Wine director Alesha Gooderham, Tourism Events Queensland says it considers the event to have been cancelled, and will no longer provide funds.

"Given that the event is no longer happening, the funding commitment for that event will no longer apply," TEQ executive corporate affairs spokeswoman Megan Saunders said.

Noosa Pacific Hotel's Robert Murray said the decision to step aside had "not been taken lightly".

"We have invested significant funds and energy into creating a new Noosa Food and Wine Festival in 2016 following the events surrounding the festival that was held in 2015," he said.

"While we received strong support from local suppliers, in the short time frames available we were not able to attract the level of commercial sponsorship we feel was required to deliver the scale of event originally envisaged."

Ms Gooderham, who was appointed late last year to coordinate the festival, said yesterday it would definitely go ahead.

"It's the best thing for the region and the restaurants in the region - to hold on to that date and keep the event going," she said.

"In the planning, the chef talent was already confirmed and booked. We also have a great relationship with the restaurants and that support has not changed.

"A lot of visitors return to Noosa habitually each May."

Ms Gooderham said Sheraton Noosa would continue to be involved and was hosting a festival dinner by chefs Pete Evans and Peter Kuruvita, as well as wine masterclasses.

"Their input remains very valuable - they remain a key sponsor," she said.

"It never was the Sheraton's event. There was some confusion - it was the owners of the Sheraton not Sheraton itself.

"Their brand was never part of the event nor was the Sheraton's.

"It was more their role as an anchor tenant."

Tourism Noosa chairman Steve McPharlin said the decision by Noosa Pacific Hotel Pty Ltd was disappointing.

He confirmed the Tourism Noosa board had stepped in to facilitate a 2016 event, albeit with "a new, scaled-down format".

"The schedule that the event management people are putting together is really fantastic. I think when people see it they'll be incredibly happy that the local restaurants and everyone are putting it on," he said.

"It's going to be awesome."



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