04 Jul 2023

Success for River Revival Vouchers

The first round of the River Revival Voucher program injected an estimated $3.1 million into the Murray River, Lakes and Coorong and Riverland visitor economies.
In a double win for the regions, a survey of voucher users found the voucher program not only pumped expenditure in the regions, but greatly increased awareness of what the Murray River has to offer.
The South Australian Tourism Commission surveyed people who redeemed a voucher in round one, with results showing the program had an immediate economic boost for tourism businesses impacted by the once-in-a-century flood last summer.
It comes as confirmation that the first week of the second River Revival Voucher round booking period has already generated more than $2 million in bookings value alone, and as another event is announced to support an important river community.
Following last week’s announcement that the Santos Tour Down Under men’s Stage 4 race will start at Murray Bridge, Illuminate Adelaide today confirmed that a special “River Lights” installation will be held at Mannum next month.
The two-week pop-up will be held on 4 – 13 August, showcasing the riverfront and town centre, and helping bolster the local flood recovery efforts.
Tourism operators are now hoping for a strong winter period, with bookings rolling in for both regions. To date for round two, more than 2200 bookings have been made – with houseboat companies overwhelmed with the strong response from consumers.
Bookings for round two close on 25 July, with a second chance draw being held on 27 July which will see unused vouchers cancelled and reissued to ballot entrants to drive further bookings.
The SATC’s survey of more than 1100 voucher round one users found that each of the $50, $100 and $200 vouchers drove significant additional spend right along the river, with every $1 spent by the SATC on the vouchers returning more than $5 to the regions.
Those who redeemed the most popular $200 accommodation vouchers spent on average an additional $746 while in the river regions, generating income for operators of tours and activities, food and beverage, produce, entertainment and more.
A third of those who used a $50 experience voucher stayed at least one night in the Murray River regions, as the voucher incentive helped entice visitors to linger longer to discover and support flood affected regions.
Triggering visitation that would not have occurred otherwise, 71 per cent of those who redeemed a voucher had not intended on taking a trip prior to the program. 
More than half (54%) of voucher users were not aware of the operator they visited before the program – demonstrating its effectiveness in increasing awareness of tourism offerings available in the river regions.

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said South Australians were asked to rise up for our river and they have delivered, helping inject an estimated $3.1 million into the visitor economy of our flood affected regions. 
"The vouchers are doing their job, they are not only significantly boosting visitation and expenditure in our Murray River regions that would not have occurred otherwise, but they are also driving awareness of the diverse and exciting experiences on offer," Minister Bettison said.
"Major events including the Santos Tour Down Under and Illuminate Adelaide are now turning the eyes of potential visitors from across the country, and the world, to our flood affected communities, further boosting visitation and awareness to regions worth a combined $436 million prior to the flooding event." 
Mid Murray Mayor Simone Bailey said the Mid Murray Council is excited by the opportunity, and proud to host Illuminate held in our region, especially this year where it will provide a much-needed boost to the community during recovery, counteracting the tourism downturn as a result of the extended and significant Murray River flooding.   
"We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to our region and are excited by the prospect of people gathering to connect, enjoy all that our region has to offer and to support the businesses that have been doing it tough, especially those who had to close throughout the flood and are only just reopening now," Ms Bailey said.
"Mid Murray Council is appreciative of the ongoing support of the State Government, and the SATC for this fantastic opportunity."
Manager Business Support, Boating Industry Association SA, George Bolton said houseboat operators have been pleasantly surprised as to the volume of enquiries they have received, most of which are converting to bookings.
"There has been an even spread of enquiries for both the Riverland and Murraylands and operators are ready to welcome guests back onto the river right now, which is a fantastic way of bringing families together.
"Whilst seeing bookings targeting mainly September onwards, there has been reasonable bookings so far in July and August. No doubt this is attributable to the $750 River Revival Houseboat Vouchers, being a fabulous incentive to encourage people to have a houseboat holiday and experience the magnificent Murray River in winter and spring."
Illuminate Adelaide co-founders and Creative Directors Rachael Azzopardi and Lee Cumberlidge said it is exciting to be curating River Lights Mannum.

"After such a challenging time for river communities, we hope this program of art, light and technology will bring joy to the region," Ms Azzopardi and Mr Cumberlidge said. 
"We have selected some of our Illuminate Adelaide City Lights highlights to showcase in Mannum.  This collection of works will encourage the audience to interact with and to become immersed in each installation.
"It’s lots of fun and a magical experience for families, couples and friends alike."