$20 million fund to boost SA tourism industry’s ‘silver lining’ coronavirus recovery
The South Australian Government is offering grants of up to $500,000 to the state’s tourism operators to boost the sector as it recovers from the coronavirus shutdowns.
Premier Steven Marshall said the $20 million Tourism Industry Development Fund was expected to directly create 1,400 ongoing jobs in the sector.
The grants, valued at between $20,000 and $500,000, will fund up to 30 per cent of a new project, such as a new renovation, tourism experience or visitor transport option.
South Australia’s tourism sector suffered a major collapse as the first wave of COVID-19 hit Australia in March.
Local operators took in about 630,000 fewer visitors in April this year compared to the same month in 2019, according to Tourism Research Australia’s National Visitor Survey.
Overnight visitor numbers began to recover through May and June, but were still almost 40 per cent below figures from those same months last year.
Coronavirus has ‘silver lining’ for SA tourism operators
But mR Marshall said there had since been a “silver lining” for the domestic tourism market, with closed borders forcing holidaymakers to “explore their own backyard”.
He said the State Government was hoping the grants would encourage the trend.
“There’s been a slight silver lining to the COVID-19 [pandemic] for regional tourism,” Mr Marshall said, addressing media in the Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf.
“People who have traditionally, in winter, travelled overseas are now saying: ‘Well, look, let’s make this an annual trip to outback South Australia or an annual trip to regional South Australia.’
“There’s an uptick at the moment in terms of transactions in regional South Australia, but that could flow on to a permanent uptick.”
Mr Marshall said the fund would bring forward investment, creating jobs in construction and ongoing positions in tourism.
The grants program begins on Monday and runs until early 2022, or until the funding runs out.