Thursday, 30 March 2023
Reception for Tourism Industry Council South Australia
Rod and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House to honour the state and national winners of the State and National Tourism awards.
These awards are an important way for us to celebrate the innovation, passion and hard work of people in the many tourism businesses across the State – from our icons to the myriad small ventures that provide outstanding visitor experiences.
The awards process is exacting and sets a very high standard: all winners should be justly proud of their achievements.
Rod and I congratulate you on making visiting our State a rich and rewarding experience - whether that’s South Australians discovering and rediscovering their own backyard, or those visiting from interstate and overseas.
Winners create experiences we want to tell others about, or make us want to come back again and again to further delve into what makes this place special – our festivals, our landscapes, our eco-tourism experiences, our adventures, our food, our wine, our accommodation, and especially our people.
As tourism operators, you are all not only contributing to your communities, you are also helping to build our economy and for that we thank you.
In particular, I thank those small or family run businesses who are the backbone of the industry.
I congratulate you for your resilience, because tourism is, as you well know, very much influenced by the vagaries of outside forces which can’t be predicted and which we have confronted over the past few years: the pandemic, bushfires, the recent floods.
I know there are current challenges too, particularly the need to recruit staff. But resilience, commitment and determination have meant that tourism is rebounding.
One only need look at the crowds recently packing out the Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival and WOMAD.
I know we were all proud, and excited, when the Fringe sold one million tickets this year, becoming the first Festival in Australia to reach this ambitious target.
Rod and I did our bit by attending almost 50 events at all three and were impressed by the artistic standards and vibrancy these festivals generated.
These ticket sales have in turn had an impact on our hotel industry, with hotels hitting a record 98 per cent occupancy in March.
New and returning events are expected to inject more than $400 million into the State’s economy. The AFL Gather round is having similar high-level demand for hotel rooms.
Rod and I have also been impressed with our visits to regional areas: swimming with the cuttlefish in the Upper Spencer Gulf, experiencing the Outback from the Ghan, exploring the beautiful environment in the South-East, Mid-North, Adelaide Hills and the Riverland.
We have witnessed the community spirit in the River communities, who are picking themselves up from the floods and we urge South Australians to spend time there to support local businesses, particularly through the latest iteration of the voucher scheme.
Rod and I are looking forward to using our own River Murray cruise vouchers given to us by Government House staff last Christmas.
South Australia has set a bold target for a $12.8 billion visitor economy and an additional 16,000 jobs in the tourism sector by 2030.
A combined effort of government, industry bodies, operators alongside public enthusiasm for what we have in South Australia will be keys to achievement.
While it is wonderful to see international travellers returning to our state, we still have a long way to go to recovering this market.
Worth $1.2 billion pre-COVID, it was wiped out overnight after international borders closed in March 2020.
Reopening again after almost two years in February 2022, international expenditure almost tripled from $120 million at the year end
March 2022 to $307 million at the year end, September 2022.
During an overseas visit last year, I was pleased to strengthen our Sister city relationship with the Okayama Prefecture, and promote future collaboration between the business, tourism and education centres in Japan. There is also great interest in Vietnam in our food and wine.
In the middle of this year I will travel to Hong Kong and Korea and will spread the message of South Australia there too.
Friends, you are all part of an energetic industry.
I thank TiCSA for the vital role it plays as the industry’s peak body and for advocating for and supporting our tourism businesses.
I thank the judges for the part they play in identifying and rewarding excellence in tourism.
To the award winners, congratulations and thank you for your outstanding efforts in building a vibrant tourism sector.