Food and wine the future of SA

South Australia has seen a 47 per cent increase in Chinese tourists in the year to September 2013, SA Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Leon Bignell has told a CEDA forum in Adelaide.

In this regards Adelaide is well ahead of the rest of Australia which saw an 18 per cent increase in Chinese visitors, he said.

Mr Bignall said that South Australia is looking to attract higher yield visitors which may mean the State attracts less in number but with increased spend from each visitor.

"We are going for a different market than Sydney and the Gold Coast. We're going to the…mid to high end traveller," he said.

"There's a growing group of well-travelled and educated experience seekers who are looking to come to Australia perhaps for their second time and more independent travellers who may be on their first venture outside of China."

There has also been a shift in what these visitors do while they are in South Australia, he said.

Up until recently many Chinese tourists would come and stay in CBD hotels and venture to Kangaroo Island on a day trip, he said.

"But it's growing so quickly and the market's changing more and more (and) these people are now venturing out on their own or on very small guide led…trips," he said.

Mr Bignell said that the SA Government has been developing relationships with China and building demand for Chinese tourists to visit the State.

We're also making sure that tourism operators and other businesses that tourists are likely to interact with are China ready, he said.

This includes translated marketing materials but also removing barriers, like ensuring businesses are accepting UnionPay credit cards - a Chinese Credit Card with $3.5 billion credit cards, he said.

The State Government has also spent $8 million to bring about a $92 million investment from the private sector in upgrading hotel rooms throughout regional areas to four star and above, he said.

"It's all very well to have the greatest attractions in the world but if you don't have the built infrastructure that matches…the wrong sort of message is going to go back," he said.

Mr Bignall said the quality of food and wine in South Australia is a major attraction for Chinese tourists who are looking for high quality "clean and green" products.

"We know at least 50 per cent visit a winery while they're here. That's a good start when you produce 70 per cent of the country's premium wine," he said.

SA Minister for Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade the Hon. Tom Kenyon said food and wine will be the next phase of growth in China for Australia but packaging will be crucial in marketing these products.

"We've had the mineral phase and that's still ticking over - food and wine is the next one," he said.

Mr Kenyon said in the food and wine industry, the importance of design, packaging and marketing; should not be underestimated.

SA Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries the Hon. Gail Gago said food and wine contributes around $16 billion to the SA economy each year and employs one in five people.

Ms Gago emphasised that while SA will never be a cheap, commodity producing state, its natural advantages lie in the clean, high quality food and beverage products, which presents the State with an enormous opportunity in China.

The Chinese population is demanding high quality product and they are willing to pay for it, she said.

China will see a 70 per cent increase in population in terms of demand on food by 2050, its urban population is set to increase to 350 million by 2025 and the middle class doubling over the next decade, she said.

Food safety credentials are paramount among Chinese consumers and we have this incredible demand at our finger tips, she said.