06 Aug 2022

$2 million boost for nature-based tourism

A $2 million boost for South Australia’s visitor economy will spur investment in nature-based tourism experiences and make the state more competitive in luring domestic and international tourists.

Grants from $10,000 to $50,000 will be available for new and improved nature-based tourism products and experiences in or near a national park, reserve, wilderness protection area or marine park.

The South Australian Tourism Commission’s Experience Nature Tourism Fund aims to showcase South Australia’s natural landscapes while also encouraging visitors to enjoy and learn more about these important natural and cultural assets to the state.

Applications to the Fund are limited to private sector businesses, not-for-profit organisations, and community associations.

Examples of eligible applications could include the purchase of equipment for experiences such as snorkelling, kayaking, cultural tours, wildlife viewing, and other ‘pop up’ activities in national parks such as camping. On land adjacent to parks, it could also include new or refurbished off-grid accommodation such as tiny homes, cabins and glamping tents, and infrastructure such as toilets and solar power generation.

Applicants will need to demonstrate the benefits the project will deliver to the visitor economy and must also have support from key stakeholders including landowners before making an application.

Grants are available via two funding streams:

  • Stream 1 – Quick Activation Projects with grants available from $10,000 to $20,000;
  • Stream 2 – Innovative Development Projects with grants ranging from $20,001 to $50,000.

Projects must comply with the statutory management plan for a particular park or reserve, demonstrate care and consideration of the natural and cultural heritage of the proposed site, and operate in accordance with licence requirements set by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW). If the project enters a national park, applicants must have in-principle support from DEW prior to commencing an application.

The funding program runs over four financial years, with up to $500,000 available in each year.

Applications open at 9am on 5 September 2022 and will close at 5pm on 21 October 2022.

Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said the $2 million boost for nature-based tourism is all about leveraging the state’s strengths to attract more visitors from interstate and overseas, while supporting conservation efforts and communities to keep landscapes beautiful and pristine.

"Through encouraging responsible visitor experiences in and around our state’s national parks, we’re investing in the future of these stunning destinations to help ensure they remain unspoilt for generations to come," she said.

"We also know visitors seek out South Australia for its unique wildlife, spectacular coastlines, vast outback, rolling green hills and cultural heritage, so we’re building on our assets to recover domestic and international tourism and help return our state’s once $8.1 billion visitor economy."

Owner and operator of Embody Nature Deborah Fehler explained forest bathing is a decades-old Japanese practice which helps people relax, be present and connect with nature.

"It’s a therapeutic experience and it’s all about a slow, restful connection with the natural surroundings which means the Belair National Park is the perfect spot to do it," she said.

"Wellness tourism is a real up and coming sector, and more people are looking to reconnect with nature – particularly since COVID. This Fund is very welcome news and will mean more opportunities for tourism businesses like mine to make the most of these incredible parts of SA and encourage more visitors to enjoy them and respect them."

Jack Young, owner and operator of Bike About, said there’s no better way to explore nature trails than by e-bike.

"It’s special, rolling along on an e-bike as you soak in your surroundings of Monarto and the Adelaide Hills conservation parks with ease," he said.

"Our guests often tell us how great it is to get outdoors, to experience such unique landscapes and wildlife with the fresh air on your face and the slower pace that a bike brings over a bus, it’s ‘Better by Bike’ – an e-bike tour really is one of the best ways to enjoy the scenery and our national parks and demand is only going to grow.

"With exclusive access to e-bike through Monarto Safari Park, our guests get to see giraffes and have breakfast with them, rhinos and other exotic animals as they ride along – this Fund comes at a perfect time to grow these kinds of experiences you can only get in SA."

More information: https://tourism.sa.gov.au/support/experience-nature-tourism-fund.