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Tourism vouchers axed as SATC tightens belt

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The Malinauskas Government is discontinuing the “Great State Voucher” scheme and reducing its event sponsorship spending as the South Australian Tourism Commission searches for $17.6 million in savings over the next four years.

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Tourism Minister Zoe Bettison told a parliamentary estimates committee on Tuesday the tourism vouchers program along with a recently announced scheme subsidising £10 flights for UK backpackers would not be running next financial year.

The South Australian Tourism Commission, like numerous other agencies not providing “frontline services”, has been asked to produce savings to help the Malinauskas Government fund its election commitments.

SATC has been asked to find $4.76 million in operating efficiencies next financial year and $17.6 million over the next four years.

“The Tourism Commission plans to achieve these savings through the cessation of funding that was allocated to one-off projects that occurred in 2021-22 and will not continue in 2022-23, such as the Great State Voucher stimulus measures [and] the working holiday-maker campaign,” Bettison told the committee.

The Marshall Government ran eight rounds of the Great State Voucher scheme which offered accommodation discounts of up to $100 for CBD hotels and $50 for regional accommodation in a bid to stimulate the state’s COVID-hit tourism sector.

Later rounds of the scheme also offered $200 vouchers for South Australian experiences and tours.

The scheme is estimated to have cost $9.75 million over 2021-22, according to state budget papers.

Bettison also said there will be “a reduction in event sponsorship funding for various events, and we will be implementing a number of corporate services and operational efficiencies”.

The SATC’s event subsidy spend will reduce from $19 million in FY22 to $18.5 million in FY23, $12.5 million in FY24 and $7.5 million in FY25.

But Bettison insisted the reduced events sponsorship spending is not “where the majority of the savings come from”.

“While we are talking about different events, we made a quite significant announcement during the election … of the additional $40 million fund over four years for the Major Events Fund, which is under the banner of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet,” she said.

“That will also be available to grow homegrown events and to grow our existing owned and managed events.”

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