Wednesday, May 18

Welcome everyone to Government House for the Top Tourism Town Awards, and a particular welcome to those who have travelled some distance to be with us today.

Since becoming Governor, it has been my pleasure to commence a program of visits to council areas, not only in the regions, but also within the metropolitan area.

It has been a particular pleasure of my new position to reconnect with the city and State where I grew up - to experience this wonderful State at a level not possible in relatively short visits between my postings as a diplomat and ambassador.

Rod is a more recent arrival to South Australia and it has been a pleasure to show him the sheer majesty and diversity of our landscapes and to share with him the pride and enthusiasm of the people in the towns we have visited together.

Having grown up in Cornwall, Rod is keen to return to Burra and explore the State’s mining heritage both there and in the Copper Triangle.

And after touring the Upper Spencer Gulf, Rod and I are determined to return to swim with the cuttlefish.

At Murray Bridge we enjoyed strolling along the landscaped river walk, a hub for community activity.

On Kangaroo Island we were enthralled by how local ventures such as the Oyster Farm Shop, Clifford's Honey Farm, Emu Ridge Eucalyptus Oil Distillery were connecting people with local products.

And we have also witnessed the determination to rebuild tourism after the devastating fires, a sentiment which was also evident in the Adelaide Hills.

I don’t need to tell an audience such as this that our State is blessed with vibrant towns which are the gateways to the beauty of spectacular coastal scenery, lush wine regions, the stark beauty of our rugged Outback as well as superb built attractions.

At the heart of tourism are the people who have pride in their regions, go out of their way to make the visitor experience special.

Whether that’s the friendly face at the tourism information centre, the front desk of the hotel, the tour guide, or the band of volunteers who make their town attractive, welcoming and dare I say, instaworthy!

While the world-wide pandemic has thrown up many challenges, it has enabled us to rediscover our own regions, and for local communities to come together and seize opportunities.

And it is paying off, as evidenced by some recent statistics.

South Australia’s regions are exceeding their regional tourism targets set for 2025, an impressive four years ahead of schedule.

This has driven total visitor expenditure in regional SA in 2021 to $3.6 Billion, just $400 million shy of its December 2025 target of $4 billion.

Regional tourism now makes up 60 per cent of South Australia’s total visitor expenditure – up from 44 per cent at the end of 2019.

This wouldn’t be possible without the passion, vision and determination of people such as you, particularly as the backbone of the industry is made up of small or family run businesses.

The Top Tourism Town Awards set a very high standard, and, by participating, I trust you have not only rediscovered your strengths but have become enthused about what you might do in the future.

I hope you have found the process valuable and rewarding and

I congratulate all the nominees for your dedication to your towns.

I thank TICSA, for its stewardship of the Awards and for those who have assisted in the application process.

For those who will be named a little later as the South Australian winners for 2022, I wish you well in the national awards.

Through you all, our Top Tourism Towns have a great story to tell about not only supporting our economy, but also generating pride in our communities.

Your hard work, innovation and passion are the lifeblood of our tourism industry. Congratulations!