Adding Dumplings to the menu

27 May 2015

By Rowan Townsend, GM Marketing, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism has launched a project that aims to lead a new type of food revolution in the region, with the goal of teaching our regional cafes how to cater for the demands of the growing Chinese visitor market.

The “Roadside Food Project” is training cafe staff in tourism towns from Kaikoura to Twizel, helping them with Asian and Chinese lunch options to add to their menus. The project is initiated and funded by CCT working in partnership with Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT).

Since launching the project earlier in the week there has been considerable positive media interest. This has been both in the domestic media including, as well as interest from Chinese media including China Daily,, Chinanews.comcntour2 (China Tour News) and some provincial Chinese media.

Kick-Starting the Food Revolution

Tonight CCT held the first of two upskilling demonstrations which was attended by over 20 café owners and workers from Canterbury - including regional destinations such as Hanmer Springs, Ashburton and Springfield. This was held at Trents Wholesale in Christchurch.

CPIT provided professional training, with four simple Asian and Chinese dishes on the menu. The focus was on simple, fresh dishes that would be appealing to the Independant Visitor from China - as well as offering some fast but high quality pre-made alternatives. The response from the cafe owners who attended was extremely positive and many are now looking at ways to intergrate these ideas into their current menus.

To provide the opportunity to cafe owners south of Christchurch, the second workshop will be held at the Aoraki Polytechnic in Timaru on Wednesday 10 June. Also over the coming months, CCT will work on ensuring the businesses who participate are well supported through trade and online channels. In addition, further onsite visits will ensure the project is well supported into the upcoming summer season.

The Chinese Market Loves Food

Why are CCT doing this project? It’s all about visitor satisfaction.

Food plays an important part in holiday enjoyment. Chinese travellers are telling us that pies and sandwiches are poor substitutes for dumplings and stir-fried veggies

Tim Hunter, CEO, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism

Research from Tourism New Zealand indicates roadside food across New Zealand gets a less than glowing rating from Chinese visitors.

Our research in Canterbury backs this up. It shows while 62% of independent Chinese visitors would like both Chinese and non-Chinese food on holiday, up to 27% prefer to solely stick to just Chinese food when in New Zealand.

China Numbers Booming

China is now New Zealand’s second largest tourist market and everyone needs to be ready to welcome them. 

Chinese visitors spent $47 million in Christchurch YE March 2014, which is a 137% increase on the past 2 years. When combined with the wider Canterbury region this number increases to $67 million. This is the latest info released last week from MBIE's Regional Tourism Estimates.

Visitor numbers from China are on a sharp rise. Last year 265,000 Chinese visitors came to New Zealand, and the number is predicted to grow to 400,000 in 2018 and 571,000 by 2021.



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