14 Feb 2023

Tourism workshops an important step in river recovery

Dedicated tourism workshops will be held along the Murray River later this month as part of the State Government’s commitment to rebuilding the region’s multi-million-dollar visitor economy.

The South Australian Tourism Commission has also established a Murray River Tourism Recovery Working Group to help restore and recover tourism in the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions.

Prior to the flooding event in late December 2022, tourism in the regions was worth a combined $436 million and directly employing 2,800 people across both the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong.

The working group, which met for the first time last week, will provide input into the state’s tourism river recovery action plan, and guide decisions about priorities and resource allocation to ensure a co-ordinated, sustainable and equitable tourism recovery. It includes tourism operators, local councils, Tourism Industry Council of SA, and industry representatives.

The SATC has also confirmed that the final touches are being made on the upcoming $4.1 million river recovery campaign and voucher program.

Three rounds of targeted vouchers will be available during 2023 – to stimulate the return of tourism during autumn, winter and spring.

Operators from within the regions will be briefed on the campaign at workshops held in Berri, Renmark and Murray Bridge later this month.

The sessions will also be a forum for operators to share experiences with the SATC and help inform the broader tourism recovery activity.

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said with the water receding and most recreational aquatic activities back on, the time is now right to focus on tourism recovery for the Murray River regions.

"The sessions in Berri, Renmark and Murray Bridge will be a perfect opportunity for us to provide tourism operators with an overview of the campaign, and importantly to hear directly from local experts on what they are experiencing, what support they need and what is the best timing for the next steps of recovery," Minister Bettison said.

"Over the last couple of months, I’ve been in the regions talking to operators, listening to their stories and working closely with them in order to collectively design a strategy that will help them, and their businesses move forward in a timely manner.

"As we start to take the first small steps of recovery, I want to really focus on showcasing the diversity of activities and experiences available in the river regions.

"When we announced the $4.1 million tourism recovery package back in November, we said we would be ready as soon as the regions are – at a time determined by consultation with industry.

"While we recognise recovery timelines will vary as sections and operators have been impacted differently, our government continues to listen as we go and support communities along the river with the recovery process."

South Australian Tourism Commission CEO, Emma Terry said the workshops are just one piece of the recovery puzzle.

"Progressively, we’re seeing more businesses reopen as the water recedes, and the clean-up continues, so now is the time to look ahead to reclaiming the river as an iconic Australian tourism destination," Ms Terry said.

"That is why we are holding these workshops – another step in the engagement process - to share the thinking behind the SATC’s campaign. A campaign that has been informed by operator feedback so that it is flexible and bookable until the end of the year, which is going to create maximum benefit for all operators."