River Revival Vouchers inject $10.7m into Murray River regions as third round details released
The River Revival Voucher program has so far pumped an estimated $10.7 million into South Australia’s Murray River regions, driving recovery for businesses and communities hit hard by the once-in-a-century flooding event last summer.
More than doubling the impact of the first round, round two of the vouchers injected more than $7.6 million in economic impact into the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions, with a total of 8008 bookings across accommodation, experience, houseboat, and guided tour providers.
It comes as latest Tourism Research Australia data demonstrates the flood recovery efforts of the State Government through the South Australian Tourism Commission have driven visitor expenditure beyond pre flood levels. In the year to June 2023, visitor spend in the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions reached a combined $562 million – well up on the $436 million spent in the year to September 2022, prior to the flooding event.
A third and final round of the River Revival Voucher program will provide a further boost to visitation and expenditure in the state’s Murray River regions in 2024.
The South Australian Tourism Commission surveyed people who redeemed a voucher in the second round, with results showing that the $750 houseboat voucher injected almost $2.5 million into the regions, with an average spend of $2300 per trip, excluding the value of the voucher.
The houseboat voucher, designed to support operators who had lost their key summer trade earlier this year, also was particularly successful in encouraging visitors to regions that would not have otherwise occurred, with 78% of users indicating they were not intending on taking such a trip prior to receiving a voucher. It also helped to bring larger numbers into the regions, with the voucher type bringing in parties of 5 or more.
Caravan parks also fared well through the voucher program, making up five of the top 10 highest number of voucher bookings, and particularly popular with the $100 and $200 accommodation category.
Almost 1000 voucher holders were surveyed by the SATC, seeking information about additional spending while using the voucher, such as local shopping, food and drink, entertainment, tours and activities.
It followed the first round generating an estimated $3.1 million into the river regions, which provided an immediate boost for tourism businesses impacted by the once-in-a-century flood last summer.
A ballot for the third round of vouchers will open to residents in South Australia, and cross border communities in Victoria, and New South Wales from 19 until 20 February.
The travel period will run from 22 February until 30 June 2024 and follows the traditionally bumper holiday season, which operators lost last summer.
An Expressions of Interest will open to providers of experiences, accommodation, houseboats and guided tours in the Riverland and Murray River Lakes & Coorong regions in early 2024.
The River Revival Voucher program is part of the State Government’s $4.6 million tourism support package for flood-affected communities, which also includes the ‘Rise Up for our River’ marketing campaign and Mid Murray Tourism Recovery Fund.
Details for the third round of the River Revival Voucher program:
- $100 Experience vouchers
- $100 Accommodation vouchers for a minimum one-night stay
- $200 Accommodation vouchers for a minimum two-night stay
- $750 Houseboats / guided tour vouchers (minimum $1500 spend inclusive of the $750 voucher)
- Operator Expressions of Interest to participate: 29 January – 4 February 2024
- Ballot registration: 19 – 20 February 2024
- Ballot draw and successful recipients notified: 21 February 2024
- Booking dates: Wednesday 21 February 2024 – Wednesday 27 March 2024
- Travel Period: 22 February – 30 June 2024.
For full Terms and Conditions and to enter the ballot for a River Revival Voucher when it opens on 19 February 2024, visit southaustralia.com/voucher.
Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said "we have never taken our eyes off the river, and our focus remains on assisting those tourism operators who missed out on their peak summer trading time."
"We promised three rounds of River Revival Vouchers, and I am very proud to announce today that Round 3 is on its way early next year," Minister Bettison said.
"To confirm today that rounds one and two contributed more than $10 million into the impacted regions is testament to the success of the program, and to the enormous support tourism operators right along the river have from fellow South Australians.
"I acknowledge that some businesses are still not back to full operation, and I will keep working with them and keep listening. Last summer was one to forget – I want this summer to be one for the regions to celebrate the return of tourism."
Edwards Group (including Riverbend Caravan Park and Waikerie Holiday Park) Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Edwards said the first two rounds of the River Revival Voucher programs have been a lifesaver for tourism operators in the river regions affected by 2022 floods.
"With the vouchers generating bookings and revenue throughout the usual off-peak periods, our Parks and other tourism operators have been able to recoup a portion of the significant revenue lost during the flood months," Mr Edwards said.
"Our Parks were fortunate to redeem over 500 vouchers in round two of the River Revival Voucher program, which helped us along the recovery process as well as benefited the entire region with guests spending money at local retailers.
"The continued support from the South Australian Tourism Commission and the State Government has helped keep operators like us going over this extremely tough time, and it’s important that this support is carried through to businesses still not operational. The announcement of a third round of vouchers is positive for all operators in the river regions, but it is especially good news for those who will have only just reopened."