The Government says it has secured in-principle agreement with China Southern Airlines to establish three direct flights from Guangzhou, one of China’s most populated cities, to Adelaide and back each week.
The deal is expected to attract about 20,000 new tourists from China each year, generate increased economic activity for South Australia’s hotels, construction, education and agriculture export industries, and create about 135 jobs at Adelaide Airport.
“This is incredibly exciting news for South Australia,” Premier Jay Weatherill told reporters at the airport this morning.
“To have a direct flight … three times a week from the most populous region in China – the region [in China] with the most international connections with the world; one of the great hubs of the world, for not only tourism, but also trade – is an extraordinary boon for South Australia’s economy.”
Weatherill said the in-principle agreement with China Southern, due to be formally signed by the end of the week, would also benefit local food and wine exporters.
“[The agreement] is not just about putting visitors in, to-and-fro, from our two regions,” he said.
“It’s also about putting goods into the belly of the plane: our premium food and wine, our dairy products, our meat products [and] our seafood products, flying out from South Australia and taken to these enormously important international markets.
“A couple hundred-million middle-class consumers [in China] … have a demand for premium products … that we produce here in South Australia.”
He said Chinese parents visiting their children studying in South Australia were among the most valuable of all international visitors for the state’s economy.
“Chinese visitors are actually our most valuable visitor[s]. They actually spend more and they stay longer than our other visitors.”
Currently, tourists from China make up the fourth-largest contingent of tourists to South Australia. In total, 34,000 Chinese visitors were recorded in South Australia during the 12 months to March this year.
Weatherill said the ease of a direct flight would attract “thousands” of Chinese millionaires and billionaires to the state and forge “deep cultural connections” between South Australia and the world’s most populous country.
Adelaide Airport managing director Mark Young said the deal would “equate to about 120,000 passengers” each year, and create between 100 and 150 new jobs at Adelaide Airport.
He said the movement of freight and trade between South Australia and China would also “benefit substantially” from the agreement, which he said had taken years of negotiation to complete.
“Our expectation is that they’ll start at three [flights] a week … and continue to grow,” Young said.
He said the service schedule had yet to be finalised, but “early indications are it will be Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday”.
The announcement comes two months after Qatar Airways launched its direct flight services between Adelaide and Doha.
Australian Hotels Association SA general manager Ian Horne told the press conference the deal would “stimulate the next generation of international-style hotels” in South Australia.
“This is a fabulous opportunity,” he said.
“All of a sudden, we become a focus for a whole range of investors.
“It sends a message to the other states that you can’t ignore South Australia.”
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