16 Mar 2020

Industry Update - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

16 MAR 2020
16 MAR 2020


A message from the SATC Chief Executive, Rodney Harrex

Dear industry colleague,

With the significant step up in Australia’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), I want to provide an update to our state’s tourism industry about how the South Australian Tourism Commission is responding to this unprecedented situation.

The Australian Government is now focused on limiting the spread of COVID-19. Travel restrictions were stepped up on the weekend, with anyone travelling or returning to Australia now required to self-isolate for 14 days, and all Australians advised to reconsider their need for overseas travel at this time.

International cruise ships have been banned from arriving at Australian ports from today, for 30 days. And on Friday, the Federal Government advised against all non-essential, organised mass gatherings of more than 500 people, which takes effect today.

I understand the implications and flow-on impact these decisions have on our sector – these challenges we face have never before been seen. It is undoubtedly causing many operators concern and cost to businesses as borders and movement are restricted.

The SATC stands by you and is working to support you any way we can. At this stage, decisions are being made with health rightly as the utmost priority, and we must take the advice from the experts in this field. Once we get the green light, we are ready to invest and make sure the sector gets the stimulus it needs to bounce back.

What is the SATC doing?

In line with the travel restrictions and worldwide impacts of the coronavirus, we are redirecting all international marketing activity to focus on the domestic market to promote our state, particularly in the lead up to the Easter holidays.

Currently in market, we have a social and digital campaign to remind everyone that there’s never been a better or more opportune time to explore our incredible backyard. Travel might be restricted right now but there is still so much to see, do and explore, safely, in the wide open spaces of South Australia. We are currently targeting South Australians and Victorians to encourage them to make the most of their Easter break and upcoming school holidays by driving and visiting any one of our state’s regions. We have continued with one partnership – working with Tigerair from Melbourne to push the Easter message, however our primary focus is on the Intrastate market - partnering with RAA to focus on camping and road trips, and ads featuring the Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Riverland, Murray River Lakes & Coorong, and Barossa region.

The team is continuing to work through appropriate and responsible messages that they can take to the market, while travel in South Australia is possible. Should travel be curtailed in future (i.e. a full lockdown quarantine situation takes place), the team is committed to continue with innovative and appropriate messages and community management in order to keep our brand and offerings visible. For example, this might simply be reminding people via social and digital media (which will no doubt surge in use) of the beauty and diversity of the tourism offerings throughout South Australia, so that when the time comes and it is safe to travel again, Adelaide and South Australia remain top of mind.

Out of an abundance of caution and following the Federal Government’s announcement on Friday regarding non-essential organised public gatherings of more than 500 people, the SATC and Tasting Australia Festival Director Simon Bryant made the decision to postpone the 2020 Tasting Australia.

It was a decision that was made after much deliberation and with a heavy heart, but one that we know was the best to ensure a spectacular, and importantly, safe experience for all. To be rescheduled to October/November, we know spring is a beautiful time of year in Adelaide and we know how many visitors this festival draws from interstate and overseas. We look forward to it reaching its full potential and bringing benefits to many across our sector.

The SATC has also been readying our people and processes to ensure we’re equipped for the ever-evolving situation. Some of these measures include providing our staff with accurate information about COVID-19 and how to stop the spread, ensuring we have the ICT capabilities for staff to be able to work from home if they should need to self-isolate, and cancelling international travel for all staff during this time. This is not unusual in today’s environment, with many private and public sector offices undertaking risk assessment and management work. I encourage all operators to review their own business continuity processes, if you haven’t already done so.

What support is available?

The Federal Government last week announced a $17.6 billion stimulus package to help protect the Australia’s economy from the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. This includes cash flow assistance to help small and medium sized business to stay in business and keep their employees in jobs. More information about this assistance, is available here.

The State Government announced a $350 million stimulus package last week, aimed at safeguarding the economy and protecting jobs. I continue to work closely with the Premier on how best the tourism industry can access these funds.

I was pleased to hear today from Business SA chief executive Martin Haese of a number of business resilience workshops that Business SA will run in-person and online, to assist local business operators recover and plan for the future. I would encourage you to visit the Business SA website to investigate what support they might offer and how to register for the workshops.

We have collated resources and useful information on tourism.sa.gov.au, updated frequently, which may assist you as you’re planning the needs of your business and trying to understand this exceptional time.

I will continue to provide you information and updates as relevant. If there is anything in particular you want to know or feedback you have, please contact me through [email protected].

Yours sincerely,

Rodney Harrex
Chief Executive