22 Jun 2023

More flights inbound for KI as iconic developments near completion

Kangaroo Island is set for a significant boost with Qantas and the South Australian Tourism Commission working together to provide extra flights to help an iconic destination rise from the ashes.

In a sign of growing confidence in tourism on Kangaroo Island, Qantas has confirmed it will work with the South Australian Tourism Commission with an aim to increase flights between Kingscote and Adelaide, including:

  • 12 return flights each week to Kangaroo Island during Summer 2023/24, with two flights on each weekday, as well as daily flights on weekends;
  • 9 return flights each week to Kangaroo Island during Winter 2024, with daily flights;
  • A change in outbound times from Kingscote-Adelaide - moving from a 3.05pm timeslot to a 5.00pm timeslot. This follows calls from the community for this change.

These additional flights would represent a significant boost for Kangaroo Island’s visitor economy at a time when iconic developments such as the Southern Ocean Lodge are nearing completion.

While on the island for Country Cabinet, the Premier visited the Southern Ocean Lodge site to see first-hand the stunning new $55 million rebuild. Bookings for the lodge are now open, with the first guests due in early December.

The Qantas announcement is the result of productive discussions between the South Australian Tourism Commission and the airline on how to provide certainty for tourism operators as the island’s economy continues to recover from bushfires and the pandemic.

The flights will also provide many more options for islanders, as well as industry and government services.

The future of Kangaroo Island is looking bright, with the rebuild of the world-class Southern Ocean Lodge due to reopen in December, new flights on the horizon for Qantas and the new multi-million dollar development of The Cliffs Golf Course set to tee off next year.

This week’s Country Cabinet visit will see State Government representatives meeting operators to discuss topics critical to tourism, such as air and ferry access, infrastructure needs and sustainable growth plans.

Latest data shows South Australia’s regional visitor expenditure hit an all-time high $3.98 billion in 2022, just $200 million shy of its $4.0 billion target set for December 2025.

More than 40% of Kangaroo Island was impacted in the 2019/20 bushfires, which happened months before COVID restrictions took hold, restricting visitation for much of 2020.

The South Australian Tourism Commission has since prioritised the island’s recovery, supporting an additional nine tourism businesses and investing more than $2.5 million in new products, marketing, event support and on the cruise sector.

Tourism on the island is worth $187 million, employing around 1500 people directly or indirectly.

About half the jobs on the island are supported by tourism.

The island has benefited from the state’s record cruise ship season, with 29 ship arrivals, welcoming more than 77,000 passengers and crew.

The revamped Oyster Farm Shop at American River was also unveiled this week, with a $36,000 Tourism Industry Development Fund grant contributing to an enhanced $120,000 sustainable aquaculture and tourism offering. 

Premier Peter Malinauskas said Kangaroo Island, in all of its natural beauty, is a prime drawcard for international and interstate tourists to come to South Australia.

"It’s been through a challenging few years. Devastating fires and a global pandemic were tough but proved the resilience of the island and its people," Premier Malinauskas said.

"More direct flights mean more interstate and international visitors can plan to travel to Kangaroo Island with certainty.

"It’s great to see SATC and Qantas working together to ensure more people visit the Island and provide certainty to the residents, the community and the tourism businesses for the future."

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said with mouth-watering local food and wine, breathtaking scenery and luxury accommodation Kangaroo Island is already one of the state’s great tourism drawcards.

"More flights to one of South Australia’s most iconic destinations is music to everyone’s ears as this change will certainly attract thousands of out-of-state visitors who will inject valuable dollars into the island’s tourism sector and help share the story about this absolutely iconic location," Minister Bettison said.

"The much-anticipated re-opening of the Southern Ocean Lodge, the Cliffs Kangaroo Island development as well as the revamped Oyster Farm Shop, will certainly add another dimension to the tourism offering in the area.

"We are lucky that tourism operators on the island are brilliant at what they do and help share this gem with around tens of thousands of visitors each year.

"While in KI, I am really looking forward to meeting with regional tourism operators, local government representatives and business owners to strategically plan what we can do to support them further.

"Regional tourism plays a vital role in our economy and has been the powerhouse through the pandemic and a critical pillar for our visitor economy."

Member for Mawson, Leon Bignell said world-class accommodation and golf courses are a magnet for interstate and international visitors.

"The Southern Ocean Lodge re-opening, the Cliffs Kangaroo Island development, the revamped Oyster Farm Shop as well as smaller tourism operations on Kangaroo Island all help attract visitors to one of the most talked about destinations in South Australia," Mr Bignell said. 

"The additional flights are great for tourism, but even more importantly, they help islanders stay connected with the mainland for specialist medical appointments, meetings, and sport commitments. 

Southern Ocean Lodge owners, James and Hayley Baillie said it is thrilling to bring Southern Ocean Lodge – which had been a South Australian tourism icon – back to the magnificent coast of Kangaroo Island.

"We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the tourism industry, the South Australian government and the KI community for the rebuild project – and by the great number of our guests who have already booked in to stay at the new lodge," Mr & Mrs Baillie said.

"We can’t wait to swing open the doors again on December 6 this year, ready for a new era of luxury on Kangaroo Island."

QantasLink CEO, John Gissing said they are proud to work with the South Australian Tourism Commission to increase our flights to one of Australia’s most unique destinations.

"We know how important reliable air services are to communities like Kangaroo Island to keep them connected and help drive more inbound tourism," Mr Gissing said. 

"We have a long history of supporting Kangaroo Island, particularly during the island’s recovery from the devastating 2020 bushfires and look forward to helping more Australians and international visitors discover this idyllic island."