‘Sell Belt food, wine to world'
WHILE the natural wonders of Australia's environment continue to be the nation's biggest draw card a major research paper has found we need to pick up our game when promoting our top notch food and wine.
Conducted for Tourism Australia, the huge research project looked at changing consumer behaviours and visitor intentions across 11 countries in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy released the findings at an annual conference and said they updated and improved the industry's understanding of the major tourism export markets.
"We already know Australia has a rich array of unique and distinctive attractions and experiences to offer our visitors, but we need to keep our finger on the pulse of changing consumer preferences and expectations, particularly from Asian markets which are growing rapidly and undergoing significant demographic changes," he said.
Granite Belt Wine and Tourism Marketing and Business manager Sarah Reeves said it appeared people wanted to experience a gourmet product but they also wanted to know where their food and wine came from and who grew it.
"This type of tourist not only supports our region, but they are like to start asking questions from their suppliers," she said.
"This is the market we tap into and why it is so important that we attend consumer markets like Regional Flavours and The Good Food and Wine Show."
Ms Reeves said the Granite Belt marketed itself more towards drive in business.
"What differentiates us from larger food and wine destinations nationally are familial nature and our tourism industry," she said.
"When you visit a cellar door or restaurant, the people serving you often have a family connection to the business. They are therefore more passionate and more connected to the product and this is attractive to our core market.
"We are internationally recognised as a wine region on the Geographic Indicator and can not be meddled with through political change and this adds authenticity to the brand and our product.
"However, our food production does not enjoy a similar authority and it would be a natural step to adopt the Geographic Indicator for food production as our destination already has recognition."
Perceptions of Australia's food and wine were mixed, but rankings were very high among those who had visited and sampled.
Tropical North Queensland, Sydney and the Gold Coast continued to rank highest for appeal.
Australia rates number one for safety among those who have visited the country.