TOURISM is a key economic driver for our state. It’s an industry that’s now worth a record-breaking $6.7 billion and employs more than 36,000 people.
Over the past five years alone we’ve seen 5000 jobs created in tourism and the broader visitor economy.
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That said, tourism is an ever-changing and highly competitive industry and the SA tourism industry can’t rest on its laurels.
We’ve recently seen other state and territory governments significantly increase their tourism investment, including $290 million from the NSW Government to enhance their already booming visitor economy.
The Northern Territory has also announced funding for the $103 million Turbocharging Tourism Package to boost jobs, improve their marketing campaigns, and secure lucrative business events.
We must, therefore, work collaboratively with the State Government and continuously invest in tourism in order to remain relevant.
Following the release of the 2018-19 State Budget, it’s pleasing to see that the government is delivering on its tourism election promises, including $21.5 million over four years to develop the event bid funds, $10 million in 2019-20 to invest in the state’s tourism marketing initiatives, and $150 million over 10 years to deliver the Regional Growth Fund – an extremely valuable initiative given that our regional and remote areas account for 41 per cent of the total spend from visitors.
However, there’s more to be done to ensure SA’s tourism industry meets its 2020 targets of $8 billion and 41,000 jobs, with a call to action for future State Budgets to increase funding.
The SA Tourism Industry Council’s 900-plus members continue to reinforce the need for the SA Tourism Commission to receive sufficient funding, including ongoing investment towards its global marketing activities to ensure our magnificent state remains on the tourism map.
A whole-of-government approach to tourism is essential, as is the case in Queensland. We want State Government agencies to support and undertake projects that foster collaboration, including an annual visitor economy summit.
Likewise, our tourism operators and their staff must have the capabilities to deliver the best experiences possible, which is why SATIC is advocating to work in partnership with the government to strengthen industry and workforce development.
Furthermore, we will persist in seeking more government support to reduce the costs associated with doing business, which particularly hinder the many small to medium-sized businesses within our industry.
Tourism will continue to evolve and diversify, and we must work collectively if we are to unlock its full economic potential.
■ Shaun de Bruyn is CEO of the SA Tourism Industry Council