A South Australian winery is hoping an 18m tall Buddha will help attract tourists to the area and benefit winemakers by strengthening its ties with Asia and supporting wine tourism in the region.
A standing Buddha
The $15 million statue, which has been in the making for the last 20 years, was praised by a Chinese delegation when it visited the region last month, as reported by Australia’s Herald Sun.
The Chinese officials said it would bring “chi” to the area and strengthen relationships with China, which in turn could help to support the region’s winemakers.
Stuart Mosman, winery manager at the McLaren Vale wineries told the paper it was a “prime opportunity” for McLaren Vale wineries to promote their brands to China – Australia’s fastest growing export market.
He told the Herald Sun: “The delegation talked about ties with the region growing with China because of the temple. They said it would create chi for the region and would bring good spirits and good will.
“It should have people every week people to see the temple and the wine region could be another part of that. It was eye opening what the development could do for the region and tourism.”
It is hoped the Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple of Australia project, which includes plans for a 35m pagoda, temple and Chinese garden, will bring 20,000 visitors to South Australia each year.
Marc Allgrove, chief executive and consultant for McLaren Vale’s Grape Wine and Tourism Association, said the development could be a point of difference to draw Chinese tourists to the wine region.
He said: “I’ve been lead to believe the presence of such a temple in views surrounding region is good luck in the eyes of many cultures that follows Buddhism.
“If that positive reflection results in a greater demand for wine and produce in the region then the region and all those that live and work within it would stand to benefit, as would the whole of South Australia.”
The temple will be the largest in the southern hemisphere and is expected to be finished in February next year.
Recently sales of Australian wine in China have fallen flat with one producer admitting it was not “the El Dorado” the industry was hoping it to be.
However Australian could see its exports boosted thanks to a major trade agreement recently made between Australia and Japan, which could help open up a new avenue in Asia for Australian wine.
It will see Japan eliminate tariffs for Australian wool, cotton, lamb and beer and give “preferential treatment” to beef, wine, cheese and seafood among other products.