Tourism Australia chief Andrew McEvoy knows how to grab an audience’s attention and he did this week when he casually announced “We want to be porn stars” to assembled media at South Australia’s gorgeous The Lane Vineyard restaurant in the Adelaide Hills.
Moreover, Australia’s food producers and winemakers beware – Americans want to descend on your home, eat your food, drink your wine, feel and act local, interact with the natives and not pay much – more on that later.
McEvoy was launching Tourism Australia’s plan to ramp up the promotion of Australia’s wine and food experiences and his food “porn” reference was in reference to the world’s current fascination with all things culinary – cooking shows, food magazines, blogs and the food porn fluffers (celebrity chefs).
The launch sees Australia’s “There’s nothing like Australia” campaign shoot off into the food sphere with the unveiling of the Restaurant Australia strategy which is all about linking our people, product and place to promote Australia as a food and wine destination.
McEvoy said the Restaurant Australia concept sees the current global campaign evolve to another level by promoting Australia as the world’s greatest restaurant – serving up the most unique food and wine experiences in remarkable locations every day.
Restaurant Australia will utilise the nation’s leading food and wine identities as global ambassadors as well as prominent identities in overseas markets, many of whom are strong advocates of Australian fine wine and produce.
Already many restaurants around the world are sourcing Australian produce such as meat, fruit and seafood. The challenge for Tourism Australia is how to make people more aware of the fresh, natural supermarket where their food is coming from – how to make Australia the destination you visit when you want to come home for dinner.
Tourism Australia marketing head, Nick Baker said, “The grand ambition is these restaurants might eventually promote that they’re proudly sourcing produce from Restaurant Australia.”
“Right now the big question is how would we do that, how do we get to that point,” he said.
Part of that answer lay in the location of this week’s official launch at the inaugural “Savour” event in Adelaide which brought together many of the nation’s food and wine leaders.
According to Wine Australia’s General Manager, Market Development, James Gosper, the launch of Restaurant Australia has managed to excite and unite the food and wine industry in a way that he hasn’t seen before.
As for the potential invasion of Americans searching for bespoke tourism experiences – no good launch is complete without parachuting someone in from overseas to tell us what to do.
On this occasion it was Wendy Perrin from Conde Nast Traveler magazine, on her first visit to these shores, who outlined what her readers (mostly Americans) love and want on their holidays.
Unfortunately, not many want to come to Australia to savour our food and wine according to the magazine’s recent reader survey.
Perrin pointed out that the way forward might lie in some of the shared experiences her readers love the most.
These included extraordinarily bespoke experiences involving intimate meetings with chefs, winemakers and local celebrities and not being charged much (if at all).
The good news is most of these near freeloaders seem to prefer Italy or third world countries which may go some way to explaining why they have such spluttering economies.
As things stand, Tourism Australia’s research indicates Australia doesn’t rate highly as a food and wine destination with people who haven’t been here but it’s ranked number two after France for those who have.
More pertinently, in Australia’s key markets such as the UK, USA, China, France and India among others, it ranks number one.
“There is a growing appetite (literally) globally for food and wine as part of the travel experience and Australia has all the right ingredients to capitalize on this opportunity – with the finest array of produce served in the most stunning locations in the world,” McEvoy said.