Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Fruit industry a Shepparton tourism drawcard

The director of SPC Ardmona Factory Sales has expressed disappointment at the Federal Government’s decision to not fund upgrades to SPC Ardmona.

CHLOE WARBURTON February 1, 2014 6:31am

SPC Ardmona Factory Sales birthday Sam (in red) Andrew PrenticeShepparton News on 8/11/2013 CAPTION: SPC Ardmona Factory Sales birthday Sam (in red) Andrew Prentice

Andrew Prentice yesterday said more than quarter of a million transactions were made at the business annually.

Although it was difficult to quantify how many tourism dollars these brought to the city, at least five busloads of tourists visited Factory Sales every week.

During a press conference on Thursday announcing the Federal Government’s decision, Prime Minister Tony Abbott dismissed claims of inconsistency concerning a $16 million pledge to Cadbury’s Hobart factory during last year’s federal election campaign.

Mr Abbott said the grant to Cadbury had been to provide tourism infrastructure.

Mr Prentice, a third-generation fruitgrower who bought the Factory Sales business in 2012 with his son Samuel, said there was no doubt SPC Ardmona and SPC Ardmona Factory Sales brought tourism to the Shepparton region.

‘‘The tourists that come to SPC Ardmona Factory Sales don’t always buy something from us, but regardless they’re coming to Shepparton to have a look around and have a coffee,’’ he said.

‘‘It is Shepparton’s biggest tourism attraction. Factory Sales is a completely independent business, but I’m frustrated by the lack of foresight by the government when you see what’s spent upgrading water infrastructure, for example — it’s billions of dollars. All SPC needed from the government was millions.’’

Mr Prentice said he was disappointed to see Mr Abbott’s comments on Thursday and believed the decision would affect businesses across Shepparton.

‘‘The difficulties faced by SPC Ardmona and our growers is really about what happened with the dollar and the cheap imports that have crippled the industry and that was barely mentioned by Mr Abbott,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m deeply disappointed for Shepparton and there will be a lot of businesses affected by this. I’m grateful to Coca-Cola Amatil for coming in and growing the business at a time of difficulty.

‘‘It’s just disappointing, particularly when Tony Abbott was so vocal when he wasn’t in power, but now he does nothing.’’

Tourism Greater Shepparton president Cheryl Hammer said SPC Ardmona and SPC Ardmona Factory Sales were an internationally recognised brand.

‘‘From a tourism perspective, there’s no doubt SPC Ardmona, and SPC Ardmona Factory Sales in particular, is a tourist attraction,’’ she said.

‘‘If people think of the Shepparton area internationally, they think of SPC... If our identity or our link with SPC in Shepparton is compromised, we have no doubt there’ll be flow-on effects.

‘‘To say the demise of SPC could be the downfall of our tourism industry goes a little too far, but we need to think about how we can step up in different ways.

‘‘There’s still no doubt in anyone’s mind that if SPC was compromised, it would leave a huge dent.’’

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