South Australia’s leading food and drink festival, Tasting Australia, will not be held this year – returning instead in 2021 from Friday April 30 to Sunday May 9.

The festival was postponed in March, after the federal government advised against mass gatherings of more than 500 people. It was scheduled to return in October this year, but organisers say the hospitality industry first needs to focus on rebuilding. It is also not yet clear when restrictions on mass gatherings and national and international travel will be lifted.

“Right now, businesses are focusing on recovery as they reopen to customers and adapt to a new way of working, through no fault of their own, to ensure the safety of the community,” Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said in a press release. “We want to do all we can to support these businesses through the greatest economic challenge of our time.”

While the festival proper will not go ahead, organisers say they’ll continue to support businesses (within government guidelines) who want to go ahead with events that were part of the 2020 program. Ticketholders for these events will be contacted in the next two weeks with further information.

“While Tasting Australia won’t return until 2021, I encourage all South Australians to get into the city and across the state’s regions now, to visit and support the food and beverage businesses who are at the heart of the state’s industry,” Rasheed said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented the food and beverage industry with unprecedented challenges at every part of the supply chain, from farmers to venue operators. “While we can now see a path forward, it will take some time for our producers and businesses to get back on their feet,” festival director Simon Bryant said.

“From the outset of this crisis, we’ve been focused on how to best support the Tasting Australia community. I believe that delaying Tasting Australia to 2021 will give businesses the time they need to heal and rebuild, allowing them to fully leverage and engage with the festival – and to properly prepare for and embrace all its wonderful possibilities.”