Vincent Tremaine, Chairman of Business SA
The Chinese tourism market is booming in Australia, and it is time South Australia positioned itself for a larger piece of the South East Asian pie.
We are undoubtedly heading in the right direction when it comes to targeting Chinese tourism, particularly with the outstanding success of the Port Adelaide Football Club’s foray into premiership games in Shanghai in May.
We have a lot to offer to our Asian neighbours which differs from our eastern relatives, including easily accessible wine regions, the unbridled beauty and nature-based tourism of Kangaroo Island and the Flinders Ranges and our pristine beaches.
However, we need to lift our game when it comes to catering for the anticipated tourism lift created by the Power’s initiatives and the announcements of extra China Southern flights. We have a growing number of luxury and mid-range hotel rooms, there are plenty of unique activities in and around the city, but we have to cater for international interests at night.
Adelaide has long had a reputation for being the city which turns the lights out at 5pm on a Friday, other than during Mad March. This needs to change, and change quickly.
At a recent function where Port Adelaide Football Club chief executive Keith Thomas, South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex and Australian Ambassador to China Jan Adams spoke, it was mentioned that many Asian tourists like to go out to dinner and then walk it off with a bit of shopping after dark.
Anyone venturing north to countries including Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong would know the shops trade late, making it easier for working people to browse stores and spend their hard-earned cash at night. But that doesn’t happen in Adelaide, unless you venture into Rundle Mall before 9pm on Fridays.
Manufacturing in South Australia is struggling with Holden’s closure and supply chain collapse. Ship building has hit a trough before it ramps up again. Restaurants are struggling during the day as the long lunch disappears, and tables sit empty on premier strips.
The state needs to think of ways to grow our economy, including retail, hospitality and trade.
Opening stores later at night would mean more jobs, more people spending, with luck people might stay out a bit later, pubs would have more patrons, and our economy would benefit.
Despite our voices growing louder, shop trading hours remain restricted. Liberalising shop trading hours would level the playing field for city retailers on nights when their suburban counterparts trade, and for the suburbs on Friday nights. Even opening at 9am on a Sunday would help traders sell more goods.
The Business SA Survey of Business Expectations is open until tonight, and we encourage any business owners or decision makers to have their say about shop trading hours.
The state badly needs an economic boost. If we are targeting the Chinese and South East Asian tourism markets, we need to think about their interests and how we can lift our game.