Coming soon - Chinese dishes on the menu at a cafe near you
Forget pies and sandwiches, Asian visitors are more interested in dumplings and rice paper rolls for lunch, and a dozen South Canterbury cafes will soon be able to oblige.
Demonstrations and training on how to cook those dishes along with stir-fried chicken, Asian vegetables, fish cakes and steamed buns will be part of the Roadside Food Project.
The project is being organised and funded by Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism (CCT) in a bid to satisfy the appetites of Chinese tourists in the region.
It will include training cafe staff in tourist towns from Kaikoura to Twizel, helping them with Asian and Chinese lunch options to add to their menus. CCT will be working in partnership with Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT).
CCT chief executive Tim Hunter said China was New Zealand's second-largest tourist market and everyone needed to be ready to welcome Chinese tourists.
"Food plays an important part in holiday enjoyment. Chinese travellers are telling us pies and sandwiches are poor substitutes for dumplings and stir-fried vegetables."
He added that around the South Island, Chinese visitors have good access to Asian food at night, but not so much at lunchtime.
"Chinese tourists prefer hot food during the afternoon but they don't have too many options and we are working on the problem by initiating the project."
Research from Tourism New Zealand indicated roadside food across New Zealand received a less than glowing rating from Chinese visitors.
"Our research in Canterbury backs this up. It shows while 62 per cent of independent Chinese visitors would like both Chinese and non-Chinese food on holiday, up to 27 per cent prefer to stick to just Chinese food when in New Zealand," Hunter said.
Roadside Food Project demonstrations are planned for two locations, Trents Wholesale in Christchurch on Wednesday and Aoraki Polytechnic in Timaru on June 10.
CPIT will provide professional training and CCT will use its channels including travel fairs, media and social media to promote Chinese-friendly eateries throughout the region.