Spurr was CEO of the South Australian Tourism Commission from 1998 to 2007 and more recently chair of the Adelaide Venue Management Cooperation where he served for more than 20 years.
His long career in Adelaide’s tourism and hospitality sector included senior roles as executive director of the Australian Hotels Association (SA), head of the Tourism and Hospitality School at TAFE’s Adelaide College, and executive director of the Adelaide Convention Bureau.
His litany of board roles included long-term directorships with the Adelaide Fringe, the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Sealink Travel Group (now Kelsian).
He was also chair of the state government’s international student marketing body Education Adelaide.
Tourism Minister Zoe Bettison told parliament that Spurr’s service to the state’s tourism industry is “without equal”.
“He was a pioneer that put South Australia on the map for interstate and international travellers,” she said.
“He was a generous, warm and caring man, and a mentor to many young professionals and leaders within our community. He leaves an extraordinary legacy.”
Spurr’s passing prompted tributes from both sides of politics.
South Australian senator Simon Birmingham said Spurr “gave his professional life to our hospitality, events & tourism industry … with enormous passion”.
We all have people who influence our lives at important junctures. For me, Bill Spurr was one such person. I am terribly saddened to learn of his death but celebrate a life that gave so much to South Australia and enriched the lives of so many people he worked with. pic.twitter.com/yMmlh0EzlG
— Simon Birmingham (@Birmo) July 5, 2022
“Events like the Tour Down Under and many strategies to lure visitors and students to South Australia owe their success to Bill’s collaborative style of leadership and his absolute diligence to any task at hand,” Birmingham wrote on Twitter.
“As a leader Bill always took the time to listen to those around him.
“As a former graduate employed by the SATC said to me of Bill in recent days, ‘he made it his business to know everyone’s name, he asked peoples (sic) views, thoughts and advice and actually cared about their answers.”
Premier Peter Malinauskas said he “made an enormous contribution to our State, especially the tourism sector”.
Shocked & saddened by the passing of Bill Spurr AO.
Bill was a great South Australia who made an enormous contribution to our State, especially the tourism sector.
On behalf of the SA Government, I extend my condolences to his wife Helen, family and friends. https://t.co/92XbarDjkl
— Peter Malinauskas (@PMalinauskasMP) July 5, 2022
Vale Bill Spurr. A kind, thoughtful man always eager to lend his ear & his wisdom. Regional communities truly mattered to Bill. Happy memories (2019) of a road trip – taking the roads less travelled – in the remarkable Southern Flinders. Sincere condolences to Bill's loved ones. pic.twitter.com/g1wFc0YfJQ
— Dianah Walter (@Dianah_SA) July 5, 2022
The Adelaide 36ers are saddened by the passing of Bill Spurr AO, and the Club sends its deepest condolences to the Spurr family.
Full statement below. #WeAreSixershttps://t.co/EnxtkcD7vg
— Adelaide 36ers (@Adelaide36ers) July 5, 2022
The passing of Bill Spurr is a huge loss for his family and SA. A great supporter of KI and a lovely bloke all round. Very glad to have had Bill as a friend for many years. Vale Bill
— Michael Pengilly (@PengillyMichael) July 5, 2022
South Australian Tourism Commission Chair Andrew Bullock said Spurr was both passionate and innovative during his nine-year stint as CEO.
“It would be a challenge to find anyone who knew as much about tourism, hospitality and the events sector as Bill Spurr,” he said.
“He had a very long list of successes – from his progressive work with the SATC and more recently, as chair for the Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, and for his commitment to the community – he was a remarkable South Australian.”
Spurr leaves behind his wife Helen and two children Debbie and Craig.
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