Tourism a bright spot in sombre economic outlook

Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell

Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell

Tourism is one of the few bright spots in a sombre economic outlook for the State, according to the latest BankSA Trends analysis.

Compiled with Deloitte Access Economics, the report suggests that tourism “is one sector in Australia which is poised to show growth post the mining boom”.

“In part, the good news on the tourism front is a reflection of favourable movements now occurring in exchange rates, but it also reflects the rising demand for overseas holidays from Asia’s growing middle class,” the report says.

BankSA says economic growth in Australia’s key tourism markers has remained strong, even with some slowing in places like China.

On his return from last week’s trade mission to China, the Minister for Tourism, Leon Bignell, said he thought that there was “some low hanging fruit” in the tourism market in Shandong, given the relatively large numbers of people able to travel.

BankSA said China was contributing to a “boom” in tourism from Asia.

“Arrivals from China rose by 10 per cent over the past year. This follows a decade where double digit growth has been the norm, but even that was eclipsed over the past year by some of Asia’s other emerging stars, with Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong all posting growth in traveller numbers into Australia in excess of 14 per cent,” it says.

And South Australia is getting its share of the tourism action.

“Overseas visitor arrivals to South Australia rose by a strong 7.5 per cent over the past year to a total of 390,000 people, with the trip expenditure of those people in the State also rising by a strong 7.2 per cent,” the BankSA report says.

“Those are significant numbers.”

While a more competitive currency and cheaper fuel costs have helped, BankSA says increased visitor arrivals in Adelaide have also been boosted “the state’s increased connectivity directly to Asian source markets via low cost carriers”.

Leon Bignell said the potential for direct flights from Shandong’s capital, Qingdao, to Adelaide had been discussed during his visit to China.

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“The Governor of Shandong, Guo Shuqing, is really keen to see some direct flights between Qingdao and Adelaide and I’m keen on that as the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries as much as I am for tourism,” Bignell told Business Insight.

“If we can fill the belly of  a plane with perishables on the way up and get things into (the Chinese) market on the same day, that would be terrific.”

Bignell said direct flights to Qingdao would provide much more effective access to the Chinese market than the current routes via Hong Kong and Vietnam.

“It’s probably some time off yet but we are beginning discussions on a direct air link between the two provinces – which might begin with some charter flights backward and forwards,” he said.

“Even if we had a flight that left every Thursday, for example, all of our food producers would know that if they wanted to get their product to China they would have to have it ready by Wednesday night for a Thursday morning flight out, and then you could backfill it with Chinese tourists coming down to South Australia.”

He said only 30,000 tourists from Shandong had visited Australia last year.

“Shandong has 100 million people in the province, and 27 million of them left China for an overseas holiday last year – so I would say there is some pretty low hanging fruit there,” Bignell said.



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