Cash boost for struggling tourism sector

Marree Hotel: Owners Maz and Phil Turner.
Marree Hotel: Owners Maz and Phil Turner.

South Australia's peak tourism body have welcomed a $20 million cash injection to the state's regional tourism industry.

Tourism Industry Council South Australia Chief Executive Officer Shaun de Bruyn said the state government's new multi-million-dollar Tourism Industry Development Fund will grow the industry after a tough COVID-19 period.

"This Fund will enhance regional infrastructure and experiences, as well as drive regional development to ensure our tourism products continue to remain one of our key assets, which is particularly important during this recovery phase," Mr de Bruyn said.

"Most importantly, this Fund will help to create new jobs, support regional communities and drive sustainable industry growth."

Grants from $20,000 to $500,000 are available for new and improved regional accommodation, and quality tourism product and experiences that attract more visitors and a higher return.

It is part of a suite of support packages aimed at the tourism sector, which has been significantly impacted by bushfires and COVID-19.

"There's no doubt the tourism industry is one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's also one of the most innovative and creative," he said.

"We want to ensure that regional tourism businesses are supported to improve and diversify their offering so they can remain sustainable, increase visitor demand, and have visitors linger for longer.

"Regional tourism is playing a major role in rebuilding our state's visitor economy and creating local jobs. We already know 43 cents in every tourism dollar is spent in our regions and early indications show this Fund will create around 1,400 ongoing direct tourism jobs."

Grants range from $20,000 to $500,000 with a maximum of 30 per cent state government funding committed to the total project value.

Examples could include new accommodation or refurbishments to existing properties, the development or enhancement of tourism experiences, including innovative transport options, or infrastructure to enhance visitor engagement including a new cellar door experience or an interactive display.

"One of the key strategic priorities identified across all regions for growing the visitor economy in our state, is improved accommodation, product and experiences," The Premier said.

The funding program opens 9am on September 14 and runs until the end of March or until all funds have been allocated.

Applications will be assessed by a panel of expert tourism representatives.