Close to 700 Australian businesses have so far shared their top food and wine experiences as part of Tourism Australia’s new Restaurant Australia campaign, which launched in Sydney last week.

Tourism Australia managing director, John O’Sullivan, said it was pleasing to see its new food and wine campaign receive such a strong backing from industry.

“We started this campaign by putting out a rally cry to industry and early signs are they are backing it. There’s already so many great stories coming in bringing to life the people, the produce and the places that we believe will inspire more international travellers to visit Australia and sample for themselves our incredible food and wine and our exceptional culinary experiences,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said this year’s Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE14) provided an ideal platform to present ‘Restaurant Australia’ to more than 1800 Australian tourism operators and international buyers, as well as 70 of the world’s top tourism and travel media.

“We’ve made sure that this year’s ATE, hosted here in Cairns for the very first time, has a strong food and wine flavour, including the showcase opportunities at the welcome and farewell gala dinners and through the experiences included as part of the event familiarisation program,” he said.

The Restaurant Australia campaign was developed based on research conducted by Tourism Australia in 15 of Australia’s key tourism markets in 2013, which identified ‘food and wine’ as a key factor in holiday decision-making and the most important emotive trigger, closely followed by world class beauty.

The research also identified a significant gap in the perceptions of Australia’s food and wine offering – with people who have visited rating it highly compared to those who have not. For people who have never visited Australia only 26 per cent associate the destination with a good food and wine offering.

However, for those who have visited, Australia ranks second in the world for its food and wine experiences (60 per cent) after culinary giant France and ahead of Italy.

Mr O’Sullivan said the campaign would help narrow the perception gap by ‘dialling-up’ the depth of Australia’s food and wine experiences.

Tourism Australia has worked closely with Australia’s state and territory tourism offices and industry bodies such as Wine Australia and Restaurant and Catering Australia  to develop the new campaign.

To gain further exposure, 80 of the world’s top food and wine influencers, including media, high profile bloggers, food critics and world-renowned chefs, will also be invited to Australia in November to take part in a series of food and wine-themed tours, covering the best culinary experiences on offer in every state and territory.

The visits will culminate in a gala event – ‘Invite the World to Dinner’ – which will be hosted by Tourism Tasmania at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart on November 14 2014.

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