By Matt Grant
As the Associate Director Economic Development and Tourism at City of Adelaide, I am excited to see Adelaide’s awareness on the global travel scene and popularity as a destination is rapidly growing.
In October 2016, South Australia was named as the top 5 ‘must visit region in 2017’ by the Lonely Planet and in January, Adelaide City was named as the #1 ‘Rising Star’ destination by internationally renowned travel advisory website www.trip.com. Only this week International Conde Nast Traveler listed Adelaide as the ‘up and coming’ place to visit for food. The City of Adelaide Economic Development & Tourism team has been working closely with the South Australia Tourism Commission (SATC) to leverage the exciting economic opportunities now presenting in 2017.
Capitalising on the international tourism inflow is seen as a large opportunity, not only for the residents and businesses of the City of Adelaide and surrounding suburbs, but also to support economic growth through the restructuring of the state’s economy.
As the capital of South Australia, Adelaide city’s prosperity is closely linked to the performance of the state’s economy. With the loss of industries such as manufacturing, the state can no longer rely on these areas for job growth and needs to look for new growth areas. The growing momentum of South Australia as a tourist destination is a great opportunity to seize while future longer term employment growth sectors are established.
If we have more visitors coming here, there’s increased foot traffic in the city and it becomes a more vibrant place to live and spend time. Most importantly, businesses will be more profitable and likely employ more staff. When the city’s commercial sector grows, as a result of increased demand for space, the cost pressure on residential rates is reduced.
Getting ‘China ready’
The opportunity to grow the city’s economy through increasing tourism has been significantly boosted by the fact Adelaide now has direct flights between Guangzhou, China (since mid December 2016). Figures show that this service, secured by the good work of SATC, will generate an estimated $23 million into the South Australia’s visitor economy, as well as creating 135 new jobs across the state.
Although these figures are state-wide, it is estimated that approximately 90% of expenditure from tourists occurs in the city and almost 95% of the visitors pass through the city as the gateway to the State, as a Council it’s our job to make sure their experience in the city is as good as it can be. Primarily, this means ensuring the safety and security of our visitors and providing quality public amenities. We’ve taken it a step further by introducing tourism training for city businesses, as well as developing a suite of new way finding signs and a walking trail, all tailored specifically at the Chinese tourism market. This approach is taken as Chinese visitors have culturally specific needs including language and how they prefer to transact whilst travelling.
In 2015, the Council engaged Sinosphere through the Australia China Business Council – SA Chapter to pilot a ‘Chinese customer ready’ audit and support program for 12 Adelaide city businesses, which was very well received. The program has now been extended to 30 city businesses that are highly relevant for Chinese tourists, such as those selling Australian-made products. We screened, identified and supported City retail and hospitality businesses which were most relevant to the new visitors to be ‘China Ready’ – over 30 are currently featured on the WeChat channel.
The China Ready project also delivered a suite of other initiatives, all of which form a strong basis for ongoing development and expansion. There are a number of key elements now to build on including:
- Based on the media consumption and behaviours of the China audience, a positive digital experience was created using WeChat as our main channel to connect and engage with Chinese tourists and support their stay. WeChat has 742 million monthly active users — 61% open WeChat more than 10 times per day and 36% more than 30 times.
- A map was created specifically tailored to Chinese visitors featuring eight key city destinations (selected in consultation with SATC) including Adelaide Central Market, Adelaide Casino, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide Zoo, National Wine Centre, Tandanya, the North Terrace cultural precinct and Rundle Mall.
- Over 40 bilingual signs were designed and erected to mark each of the eight featured attractions and assist with wayfinding, and placed multilingual welcome banners along the main entrance to the City from the airport.
- Supporting marketing collateral included pavement decals, outdoor digital screen displays, a multilingual ‘Welcome’ wrap in our visitor centre, WeChat/QR code window/door stickers in participating businesses, multilingual posters at key Free City Bikes nodes; stickers, posters, DVD and digital screen content for taxis and tourist buses and a Charlesworth Nuts complimentary ‘salted nuts welcome pack’.
- Chinese Language and Cultural Advice training was undertaken with Council volunteers in the Visitor Information Services Program.
At the moment it looks very China orientated, but all of the actions City of Adelaide are taking are steps towards internationalising Adelaide as a destination. Generally when people make decisions on where to study and live, or are looking to bring new businesses or investments to a city, you need them to experience it first. Once we attract people to the city, we can then leverage this and make their experience memorable so when they’re thinking about where to study, live or invest, Adelaide is top of mind. This provides a great opportunity for partnerships to form with surrounding metropolitan Councils to leverage.