World traveller and Aussie booster Daryl Hudson
Narelle Ross of Tourism Australia’s Toronto office
Wine expert Marnie Williamson
It appears that Australia has more than fabulous beaches, wildlife and culture. In fact, we Canucks are streaming to the land down under in growing numbers at least partly because ofâ€¦ the food and wine.
â€œWeâ€™re welcoming 120,000 or more Canadians each year â€“ and have a repeat factor of 40 to 45%,â€ Daryl Hudson of Tourism Australia told me over a deliciously Aussie-themed lunch at Quince Resto in mid-town Toronto. â€œWe call our food and wine a â€˜key motivatorâ€™ for travel â€“ or as I like to say, a passion point.â€
Passion point indeed. Looks like our Aussie cousins have moved way, way beyond the shrimp-on-the-barbie days with edibles now ranging from artisanal cheeses infused with wasabi, to the freshest of seafood and â€“ of course â€“ wine galore. In fact, Australians have been in the wine business for over 150 years, and itâ€™s much more than just chardonnay and shiraz, according to Marnie Williams, Eastern Canada marketing development officer for Wine Australia.
So how do Australiansâ€™ tastes in wine vary from Canadians? â€œThey tend to be more adventurous â€“ they drink bubbles all the time!â€ she said, sipping from a flute of Jacobs Creek sparkling wine.
One fellow who has every reason to raise a glass is Hudson, recently promoted to Vice President, The Americas (yes, North and South), and hence in the process of moving from Toronto, his home since 1994, to L.A. (â€œBut Iâ€™m taking a snow shovel as a souvenir!â€) Heâ€™s looking forward to the new challenges and to a new campaign, themed Australia Now, which this fall will start tempting us to take advantage of a strong loonie and low fares to cross the big, big pond to the land down underâ€¦where itâ€™s more than the tourist clichÃ©s Reef-Rock-Opera House and more like â€œNow those are bubbles I could come to adore!â€