The Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association has confirmed it’s involved in talks developing a new major festival for the region. As reported last week, Tourism WA was in the planning stages for a food and wine festival to replace the Gourmet Escape, though the final focus for the offering was not yet clarified. Stakeholders previously said they wanted to be involved in the replacement event to guarantee Margaret River featured front and centre, with the remarks coming after years of concerns the Escape failed to adequately feature and support producers in the Capes region. MRBTA chief executive Sharna Kearney told the Times “close consultation with Tourism WA” was under way. “After a challenging couple of years, our region’s events industry is back with a strong and diverse line-up for the second half of the year, including Cabin Fever, CinefestOz, Open Studios, Strings Attached, Fine Vines, Cape to Cape, and Ironman,” Ms Kearney said. “We are confident that any new culinary event developed will work with our established events calendar to drive high-value international and domestic visitation to the region.” In Parliament, Tourism Minister Roger Cook acknowledged the Escape – which was axed earlier this year after two years of COVID-19-related cancellations – “was not delivering on all the aspirations that people in the area had for it”.