The buzz Chinese tourists bring to SA


There’s often a real buzz when a group of Chinese tourists arrives at your establishment.  It’s more likely that they will be in groups rather than alone or in pairs. This can create lively conversation and an air of excitement.

Those with roots in the Chinese Confucian based culture are more likely to think and act in a collective way.  Many Australians are seen to be more individualistic in approach.  It’s not a matter of being right or wrong.  Just a preference.

The collective approach can be seen at multiple levels and it’s worth paying attention to how this impacts what you offer tourists.

Big Family

Food family and friends are at the heart of the Chinese culture.  Eating is a communal experience.  At mealtime, dishes will be placed in the middle of the table and shared.

Over two decades of life in Hong Kong, it was always so heart-warming for me to hear the words ‘daaih gā sihk faahn’ (Cantonese) which translates simply into ‘big family eat’.  It’s even better to hear friends and family gathered together for a shared meal to say this together.  The words have the same meaning when said in Mandarin and summons those gathered together, to start eating.

Extended Family eating

Portions for Togetherness

You may have noticed that some Chinese visitors will buy a few items – say cakes and baked items in a café, then proceed to cut them into small portions to share.  It’s not the quantity at this point that matters so much, it’s the chance to share and taste together.

For you, this may mean preparing some tasters for your Chinese guests. It may be just a matter of presentation and portions that will make all the difference.  Preference is not to use fingers to pick these portions up, so small forks, spoons or toothpicks are an option.

If your food and beverages are ‘a winner’ word will travel fast among family and friends.

Portions for Giving

On many occasions when journeying from Australia, Chinese friends have told me how it’s not the size of the gift I’ve brought that matters, it’s the fact that I’ve brought it from my hometown so far away in South Australia.  Small gifts brought from afar carry great meaning.  And a small gift each for a large group of people adds up.

There’s an ancient Chinese story that tells of a goose feather that is brought to an Emperor from a distant place.  It seems a strange and simple gift but an unfortunate event along the journey meant that the original gift of a flock of swans, symbolising friendship, didn’t make it.  The Emperor showed understanding to the messenger and appreciated the gesture of the one goose feather which finally made it into his hands.  It was meaningful as it had been brought from afar with great intention.

It’s worth thinking of how a larger quantity of your amazing South Australian product can be packaged up into smaller packages for your guests to give as gifts to groups of friends or work colleagues on return to China.  If it’s food or confectionary you produce, and if multiple gifts are needed, it’s important again that the food is individually packaged and the sharing process among the ‘big family’ doesn’t involve bare fingers.

Think about the approach and see how just a little ‘tweaking’ with presentation can help provide yet another amazing warm South Australian experience to your visitors who love to share the joy of eating food collectively and distributing quality gifts from afar widely.

Guest writer:Pamela Murphy is a CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Certified Advanced Professional