31 Mar 2020

Stay home this Easter break

31 MAR 2020
31 MAR 2020

An opinion editorial by the South Australian Tourism Commission Chief Executive Rodney Harrex:

As much as it pains me to say, particularly as the Chief Executive of the South Australian Tourism Commission, I have to urge people to not take a break next month. Don’t travel, don’t holiday in South Australia. Just stay home this Easter and school holidays.

The Premier Steven Marshall and our state’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier have made it very clear. To stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to stop non-essential travel. And at this time of year, as we head towards the much-looked forward to Easter and school holiday breaks, that’s going to be very tough for families and friends who would normally travel together to great locations right across SA. But things are not normal. Far from it. So we need to change our behaviour, and stay home, with our immediate family or household members, and find things to do in or near our postcodes. That means plenty of dog walking, trips to the local park or beach, but not a group BBQ or party – and all the while, maintaining social distancing. This is a time to spend time with those closest to you, crack out the board games and find new ways to be entertained in your castle (maybe even watch The Castle!).

Our tourism industry is being hit very hard – no doubt, it is one of the sectors which is going to be feeling the impact of this pandemic for a very long time, along with hospitality, retail, our sporting clubs and airlines. Tourism injects nearly $8 billion into South Australia’s economy, and employs 38,900 people. Many of these are small businesses who have experienced millions of dollars’ worth of cancellations over the last couple of weeks, and who will lose forward bookings for many months as this crisis continues. Just like Kangaroo Island was hit particularly hard over the January school holidays, tourism operators all over the state will be hurting over the Easter break. But there is no choice. If we are to take the most solemn advice of the health experts, we need to self-isolate and take it seriously. 

So, while my job and my passion is to promote tourism and the amazing operators we have in South Australia, we need to take the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community very seriously – and that means staying home. It’s what I’ll be doing, with my family to help slow the spread and hopefully, help lessen the time that our community feels the impacts of this pandemic. 

We will continue to use our #SeeSouthAustraliaFromHome Facebook group and southaustralia.com to promote all that makes our state so great – showcasing those operators who are innovating and adapting their business models in this crisis and those that, on the other end of this, will be bookmarked as new SA-based holiday options to discover, to book out and enjoy the good times together again. Rest assured, my team is working hard behind the scenes helping our operators charter through these unprecedented times and developing a tourism recovery plan that will have us ready to bounce back as soon as we can. We’ll be ready to shout out to the world that South Australia is “open for business”.