With advice against intrastate travel being lifted today among a tranche of COVID-19 restrictions being eased, the SA Tourism Commission has unveiled a campaign designed “to celebrate a sense of normality returning to the lives of South Australians who can now explore their own backyard”.
Chief executive Rodney Harrex told a parliamentary committee this morning the agency had been “working really closely with SA Health to get that right messaging” as it seeks to reignite a stalled visitor economy worth $8.1 billion annually.
Harrex said SATC’s primary focus would be on “intrastate travel”, saying 53 per cent of the tourism dollar is driven by South Australians exploring their own backyard.
“South Australians are very big supporters of travel within our state, so we see that as a significant opportunity because we’ve got a solid base there,” he said.
“We’ve been listening to what the indicators are in terms of what areas were likely to open up in the first instance, so we’ve been modelling that around intrastate, and we feel quite strongly about that opportunity because we’re coming off a solid base.”
But he revealed the Commission had also been working to capitalise on a travel “bubble” mooted between the governments of Australia and New Zealand when Jacinda Ardern joined last week’s national cabinet hookup.
Both nation’s have relatively low coronavirus caseloads, leading to a longer-term prospect of tourism pact between the two.
Harrex said in a normal year around 55,000 Kiwis visited SA, with a “particular interest in the Murray Riverland region”.
“We’ve already had discussions with Air New Zealand [and] if there’s a decision around this we’re ready to make the most of this opportunity,” he told parliament.
He said SATC also had a dedicated operative working in NZ to explore expanding the state’s messaging, so that “if that decision is made we’ll leverage that opportunity”.
SATC also wants to convince local tourists who usually spend their travel dollar overseas to holiday locally this year.
“South Australians spend a lot of money going overseas, so we see this as a real opportunity to engage with those consumers as well,” he said.
“International accounts for 15 per cent of our [travel] expenditure… we may be able to offset losses from international because of a stronger interest in intrastate travel [which] will help mitigate some of the impact.
“We’ve got to make sure the messaging is right in terms of welcoming people back to regional communities.”
He said the Commission was “in discussions with Qantas and Rex” about “encouraging people to re-access the regions”.
“We’ll continue to work with those carriers,” he said.
“Every year [South Australians are] spending $3.3 billion travelling around the world – we hope to drive some of those consumers to considering somewhere in SA…
“We want to challenge people’s norms and give them other areas to think about travelling.
“Let’s get people into the Outback.”
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