Tourism Minister David Ridgway met with local tourism representatives and business operators on Wednesday, July 11 at the Standpipe Golf Motor Inn to discuss key challenges, priorities and opportunities.
Mr Ridgway teamed up with the South Australian Tourism Industry Council (SATIC) to speak with industry leaders – including representatives from Regional Development Australia Far North – about how state government could maximise tourism opportunities in regional SA.
The visit follows on from the launch of the Regional Visitor Strategy in May, which plans to grow the state’s regional visitor economy by $1 billion and create 1000 new jobs.
Mr Ridgway described the session as a “bit of a fact finder mission” and a good way to exchange information.
“It’s as much about me getting to know the things that local tourism operators want,” he said.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get out in the regions. I’ve done it before as Shadow Minister, but now as a new Minister, it’s a good chance to connect with them again and listen to their issues.”
The Port Augusta meeting was one of the 19 free tourism industry events being held across regional SA.
SATIC is set to use the information from the events at a summit later this year, giving state government a clear understanding of what regional tourism operators hope to achieve in the next four years.
Mr Ridgway highlighted the need for more regional marketing support as a consistent issue raised at the meetings.
He also noted that Port Augusta, as well as Port Pirie and Whyalla, faces the challenge of trying to make travellers see the town as more than just a place to pass through.
“The three towns in the Iron Triangle area have been really important to the state’s economy, and they continue to be really important, but it is that perception by a lot of people that they’re just places to maybe refuel and move on,” he said.
“That’s always a challenge; getting people to stay an extra day or two.
“Every one of these towns has a great story to tell, they’ve got a lot to offer, but it’s just that perception, so changing that will be one of the issues that comes out of today.”
Mr Ridgway met with the three Upper Spencer Gulf Mayors later in the day to continue discussions about tourism opportunities in the region.