Joe McGuire, our Global Head of Sales/Partnerships, spoke a couple of weeks ago at the Australia China Business Week in Adelaide. He makes his debut on the Airwallex Blog with this post on how South Australia tourism is making waves in China.

With world class wine, beaches and the outback on its doorstep, South Australia is leading the way in selling the Australian experience to Chinese tourists.

While it started strong, South Australia has been a perennial underperformer in recent years compared to other Australian states. Looking at all it has to offer, this seems hard to believe, and it certainly hasn’t always been the case. Consider the state’s capital, Adelaide. Between 1840 and 1900, Adelaide’s population grew by nearly 81 times its size.

South Australia attracted migrants from across the globe; pioneers who brought new cultures, created new settlements and planted some of the world’s oldest grapevines that still exist today. For years now, South Australia has languished, unsure of how to direct both business and tourism to the state, and more importantly, dollars into the economy. However, with an entrepreneurial government at its head, the state seems to have finally found its niche.

Last year over 1 million Chinese tourists visited Australia. Most of these tourists come to escape the clutter and congestion of home and to experience the sun, space and produce of Australia. They want to see everything, but due to the sheer size of the continent, tourists believe that this can be expensive and time consuming. South Australia cleverly plays to this perception by marketing the dinky dye experience in a compressed format. Sean Keenihan from the SA government claims that South Australia is the only state that can offer tourists the opportunity to experience 2000 cellar doors at its doorstep, world class beaches, seafood and a night under the stars in the desert. All the elements of an unforgettable Aussie experience, achievable over a single weekend.

While I think their cousins to the West might have something to say about that, the idea seems to have legs. From next week, flights will not only be landing in Adelaide direct from Hong Kong, but also Guangzhou; bringing plane-loads of tourists directly to South Australia.

The other area of focus for the government is the Premium Investor Visa. Spearheaded by Phillip Grifoni, the SA Government is having huge success attracting hundreds of high net worth individuals into their state. This will translate into many millions of dollars directly invested in property, agriculture and diversified businesses.

Of course there are still challenges to be met, for example: signage and locals with language skills. Merchants should potentially be looking to address these issues by partnering with local universities. There is also a distinct lack of businesses in town who accept Chinese payment methods such as Union Pay and more importantly WeChat Pay.

Only around 5% of Chinese citizens currently have a passport, indicating huge scope for growth in this space. Adelaide looks well placed for an economic boom led by Chinese tourism and investment.