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Perfect pairing: Singapore with the Swan Valley

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Partnerships between wineries and key Singaporean social media travel influencers could attract significantly more wine tourists to the Swan Valley and increase spend during winery and cellar door visits, say Curtin University researchers.

Wine bottle, glasses of wine, and cheese and cold meat platter on bench top overlooking a vineyard.

The research, conducted by Kristina Georgiou and Associate Professor Jeremy Galbreath, has found that posts written by social media travel influencers appeal to Singaporean followers because they have a deep understanding of their followers’ characteristics.

However, the influencers only promote products that align with their personal brand images, meaning that any potential partnerships need to be highly targeted.

Singaporeans rank among the world’s most active users of social media, with more than 80 per cent of the population on a social media platform, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite.

“We are interviewing the influencers to determine the impact they could have on increasing wine tourist volume from Singapore to the Swan Valley,” says Georgiou.

“We hope to offer the wineries a targeted list of key Singaporean influencers they can engage with to generate specific travel and tourism campaigns via Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and other forms of social media.

“We also want to offer them information on how to create content that will effectively reach the Singaporean tourist.”

While the number of Singaporean tourists visiting the valley is currently unknown, figures by Tourism Western Australia show that Singapore is WA’s third largest international tourist market, both by visitor numbers and spend.

Figures from the City of Swan also show that more than 3.1 million domestic and international tourists visit the Swan Valley each year, generating $421 million in revenue.

The researchers believe Swan Valley wineries have unique experiences and selling points that appeal to Singaporean tourists.

“We want to market the natural beauty of the region and its many excellent wineries, award-winning wines and food experiences,” Galbreath says.

“It’s also worth noting that the Swan Valley is located just 10 minutes from the airport and 25 minutes from the City of Perth.”

Swan Valley winery

The Swan Valley boasts more than 40 wineries within a 32km loop. Just 25 minutes’ driving time from Perth, it is notable for being the closest wine region to a mainland Australian capital city.

The research comes amidst a shift in the effectiveness of tourism advertising.

More Millennials and members of Generation Z are investigating where social media travel influencers – such as professional Australian Instagrammer Lauren Bath – are holidaying to help pick their next travel destination.

“Social media influencers are now being perceived as more trustworthy than corporate communications,” Georgiou says.

The research is part of a larger project undertaken by a consortium comprising the City of Swan, Curtin, Destination Perth, Swan Valley & Regional Winemakers Association, Swan Valley Tourism Alliance and Wines of Western Australia, to bring more Singaporeans to WA’s oldest wine region, to aid the state’s tourism industry.

In addition to the project, members of the consortium are working on strategies to upskill local tourism operators and creating new tourism products focusing on the Singaporean market.

Professor Christof Pforr, Curtin Discipline Leader for Tourism, Hospitality and Events and a member of Curtin’s Tourism Research Cluster, will conduct surveys that analyse interactions between members of the consortium for the purpose of stakeholder management.

“It will be interesting to see whether there are any processes we can implement to encourage further exchange of knowledge and information. Some members might also bring in know-how from external organisations to assist the consortium in achieving its objectives,” Pforr says.

The overall project has been valued at $1.2 million cash and in-kind support, including a cash contribution of $250,000 from Wine Australia as part of its 2018 International Wine Tourism Competitive Grants Program.

While the focus will initially remain on Singapore, Pforr indicates there is potential to expand the project to include WA’s other Asia-Pacific neighbours in the future.

“Our emphasis is on Singapore because of its proximity to Perth and the market’s interest in wine and culinary experiences, but our findings could be applied to other countries.”

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