10 Jul 2024

Millions generated for flood affected operators by River Revival Voucher program


An estimated $12.4 million has been injected into South Australia’s Murray River regions through the River Revival Voucher program, providing much needed support to businesses and communities as they recovered from the once-in-a-century flooding event in the summer of 2022-23.
In its third and final round, the State Government program, generated an estimated $1.7 million in economic impact for the state’s Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions, bringing the total economic impact of the program to an estimated $12.4 million.
The third round saw more than 1,400 bookings made across over 120 accommodation, experience, houseboat, and guided tour providers – with the February to June travel period helping boost visitation and expenditure beyond the peak summer season.
Analysis of the economic impact data showed that for every dollar of State Government investment across the three rounds more than $5 was returned to the regions.
The State Government surveyed those who redeemed a voucher in the third round, with results showing those with a $750 houseboat and guided tour voucher spent an average of $2,666 on top of the value of the voucher. The houseboat voucher was also successful in its aim to increase length of travel, with all visiting with this voucher type spending at least three nights in the Murray River regions.
The survey also found those who used the most popular $200 accommodation voucher spent an average of $750 on top of the value of the voucher – further supporting operators of tours and activities, food and beverage, produce, entertainment and more.
The third round continued to trigger visitation that would not have occurred otherwise in the Murray River regions, while raising awareness of the tourism experiences available. More than 70 per cent of voucher users in round three had not intended to take a trip to the Murray River regions, while almost half of voucher users were unaware of their chosen tourism operator prior to the program.
Almost all voucher users are ‘likely or ‘very likely’ to recommend doing something similar without a voucher in future, helping to drive awareness of the diverse tourism products in the Murray River regions.
Latest Tourism Research Australia data shows in the year to March 2024, visitor spend in the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions reached a combined $501 million – up on the $441 million spent in the year to December 2022, prior to the real impacts of the flooding event.
The voucher program was part of the State Government’s $4.6 million river tourism recovery package announced in November 2022.
Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said to inject an estimated $12.4 million into South Australia's flood-affected Murray River regions is an extraordinary outcome of the River Revival Voucher program. 
"This initiative has gone a long way to support Murray River operators recover after being severely hit by the once-in-a-century flooding event," Minister Bettison said.  
"The River remains an important area of focus, and I am thrilled to see tourism spend not just recover, but grow across our Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions.
"Thank you to everyone who has backed our recovering communities and made a trip to our stunning Murray River. You’ve made a real difference to the people who live and work in these tourism regions."
Renmark Houseboats Owner, Leanne Glazbrook said "the third round of vouchers gave us a boost in bookings beyond the traditionally peak summer season, with many guests enjoying Remark Houseboats in the normally quieter months of April, May, and June."
"What the vouchers did was bring different people into the region to discover a houseboat holiday, which is not only a great benefit to us, but also the many little businesses who rely on that visitation," Ms Glazbrook said. 
"After staying a few nights on our houseboats, many voucher guests said they were planning to return with more family and friends because they loved their time with us so much – and we are already seeing return bookings come through because of it. Generating that word of mouth is so important for us and our local community. 
"As a voucher user myself, I know firsthand that the initiative made people stop and stay in towns that they would normally just drive through - and spend a bit while they’re at it!"