River revitalization vouchers boost Murray River economy by $10.7M

The River Revival Voucher Program has so far disbursed $10.7 million to South Australia’s Murray River region, helping businesses and communities hit hard by last summer’s once-in-a-century floods.

Double the impact of the first round, two rounds of vouchers delivered more than $7.6 million in economic impact to the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions, with a total of 8008 bookings for accommodation, experience, boating and guiding. Tour operators.

Recent Tourism Research Australia data demonstrates that state government flood recovery efforts through the South Australian Tourism Commission have boosted visitor spending beyond pre-flood levels. In the year to June 2023, total visitor spending in the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes and Coorong regions reached $562 million – up from $436 million spent in the year to September 2022 before the floods.

The third and final round of the River Revival Voucher Scheme will further boost visitation and spending in the state’s Murray River areas in 2024.

The South Australian Tourism Commission surveyed people who redeemed a voucher in the second round and found that a $750 houseboat voucher spent almost $2.5 million in the regions, with an average trip cost of $2300, excluding the value of the voucher.

The houseboat voucher, designed to support operators who lost their core summer trade earlier this year, has been particularly successful in encouraging visitors to off-the-beaten-track areas, with 78% of users indicating they would not want to make such a trip. Before receiving the voucher. It also helped to bring more numbers to the regions by bringing in voucher category 5 or more parties.

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Caravan parks also performed well with the voucher scheme, making up five of the top 10 with the most voucher bookings, particularly popular in the $100 and $200 accommodation categories.

Nearly 1000 voucher holders were surveyed by SATC, seeking information on additional spending when using the voucher, such as local shopping, food and drink, entertainment, tours and activities.

It brought in $3.1 million in six regions after the first round, providing an immediate boost to tourism businesses hit by last summer’s once-in-a-century floods.

Ballots for the third round of vouchers will open to residents of South Australia and cross-border communities in Victoria and New South Wales from February 19 to 20.

The travel season runs from February 22 to June 30, 2024 and follows the traditional holiday period that operators lost last summer.

Expressions of interest will open in early 2024 for providers of experiences, accommodation, yachts and guided tours in the Riverland and Murray River Lakes & Coorong regions.

The River Revival Voucher Program is part of the State Government’s $4.6 million tourism support package for flood-affected communities, which includes the 'Rise Up for Our River’ marketing campaign and the Mid Murray Tourism Recovery Fund.

Details for the third round of River Revival Voucher Scheme:

Voucher Types:

  • $100 experience vouchers
  • $100 in accommodation vouchers for a minimum stay of one night
  • $200 in accommodation vouchers for a minimum two night stay
  • $750 Houseboats / Guided Tour Vouchers (minimum spend of $1500 including $750 voucher)

Important Dates:

  • Operator expressions of interest to participate: 29 January – 4 February 2024
  • Registration of Vote: 19 – 20 February 2024
  • Ballot and winners notified: 21 February 2024
  • Booking Dates: Wednesday 21 February 2024 – Wednesday 27 March 2024
  • Travel Period: 22 February – 30 June 2024.
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For full terms and conditions and enter the ballot for the River Revival Voucher opens on 19 February 2024 southernaustralia.com/voucher.

Tourism Minister Joe Bettison said: „We have never taken our eyes off the river and our focus is on helping tourism operators who have missed their peak summer trading hours.”

„We have committed three rounds of river revitalization vouchers and I am very proud to announce today that the 3rd round is due early next year,” Minister Bettison said.

„Today’s confirmation that rounds one and two have contributed more than $10 million to the affected areas is testament to the success of the program and the tremendous support riverside tourism operators have received from fellow South Australians.

„I agree that some businesses are still not fully operational and I will continue to work with them and keep listening. Last summer was one to forget – this summer should be one to celebrate the return of tourism.”

Stephen Edwards, CEO of the Edwards Group (including Riverbend Caravan Park and Waikerie Holiday Park), said the first two rounds of the River Revival Voucher Schemes would be a lifesaver for tourism operators in river areas affected by the 2022 floods.

„By generating voucher bookings and revenue during normal off-peak periods, our parks and other tourism operators have been able to recoup some of the significant revenue lost during the flood months,” Mr Edwards said.

“Our parks were fortunate to redeem over 500 vouchers in the second round of the River Renaissance Voucher Program, which helped us in the recovery process and benefited the entire region by getting guests to spend money at local retailers.

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„Continued support from the South Australian Tourism Authority and State Government has helped operators like us continue through this difficult time, and it’s important that this support is extended to businesses that are still underperforming. The announcement of the third round of vouchers is positive for all operators in the River Region, but it’s particularly good news for those reopening.”

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