SOUTH Australia is bracing for an influx of Chinese tourists following in the footsteps of megastar Huang Xiaoming, an ambassador for the state.
The 40-year-old actor, singer and philanthropist has about 54 million social media followers on Weibo, in the celebrity-infatuated Chinese market.
A video produced from a visit the star made to SA last month is being beamed to millions of viewers overseas.
The footage of Mr Huang will be seen by millions of international and interstate viewers online and through Chinese social media platforms.
Up to 18,000 Chinese travel agents will also use the footage to encourage customers to choose SA and follow the star’s itinerary, which included Kangaroo Island, Adelaide Oval and top vineyards.
Launching his 12-month ambassadorship in China’s capital Beijing yesterday, Mr Huang told The Advertiser through an interpreter that he was particularly impressed with South Australia’s delicious and affordable seafood and red wine, friendly people, cute animals and natural environment.
However, he believed an increase in direct flights from major Chinese cities and comfortable facilities, such as tour coaches, would help attract even more visitors.
“More convenient and short air routes would make an improved experience for Chinese tourists,” he said.
“The most important thing is to offer something they can’t find in China.
“If I like this place, I trust they will like this place too.
“I want to visit often, maybe every year … with my family.”
About 700,000 people watched a live online broadcast of the launch.
Mr Huang toured South Australia on a secret week-long visit last month, travelling to attractions such as Kangaroo Island, swimming with sea lions at Port Lincoln, oyster farming at Coffin Bay, cuddling koalas at Cleland Wildlife Park and sampling wines at d’Arenberg Winery, Chapel Hill Vineyards and Penfolds Magill Estate. He still had time to climb the Adelaide Oval rooftop and take in the city from the 2KW rooftop bar.
In the promotional video, Mr Huang tells viewers he has visited “a unique place which is very different from the traditional Australia that you all know”.
He finishes with the line: “I am waiting in Adelaide to welcome you to my South Australia.”
It is hoped the video will not only lure visitors from mainland China but also expat Chinese interstate and be shared by international students living in Adelaide with friends and family back home.
The SATC will not say how much Mr Huang is being paid for the year-long contract, which took a year to finalise.
“The competition for Chinese tourists and the subsequent expenditure is fierce, not just between the states in Australia but globally,” an SATC spokeswoman said.
“For Adelaide to cut through, we need to be bold and tap into Chinese culture, which follows celebrities closely.
“Through Xiaoming’s reach and profile, we are aiming to drive awareness and consideration for Adelaide, and that will translate to visitation and expenditure.”
Mr Huang wrote on Weibo on Monday: “I am honored to be @Global Tourism Ambassador of Tourism South Australia , allowing me to have a chance to relax in this fast-paced lifestyle.”
China is a growing tourist market for SA.
In the past financial year, about 56,000 Chinese visited the state – up 56 per cent on the previous year – and spent about $352 million.
The SATC has a target to increase that spending to $450 million by 2020.
WHAT HUANG XIAOMING SAYS IN THE VIDEO
“I have visited a unique place which is very different from the traditional Australia that you all know.
“Take your family, driving towards the horizon.
“The most livable city without crowds, the ranges and oceans are so up close.
“Cuddling Koalas, meeting or swimming with the wild sealions or dolphins is not a dream.
“Rolling vineyards without boundary, the fragrance of grapes in the air.
“From farm to plate, never thinking before of tasting seafood in this way.
“South Australia can provide all you want for your holiday.
“Immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural scenery, meet the local wild life, taste the world-class food and wine.
“I am Huang Xiaoming. I am waiting for you in Adelaide to experience my South Australia.”