The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (12:48): I rise to support the original motion by the member for Ramsay. I would like to acknowledge that 27 September is World Tourism Day and note the importance of tourism, especially to regional South Australia. A lot of people do not understand the importance of tourism to local communities and specifically for accommodation locations and other associated activities. Our regions, especially the Southern Flinders Ranges, offer great contrast in biodiversity, not only with food and wine but also with the ever-changing environment in the Southern Flinders Ranges and the ranges in particular.
Tourism operators have been severely impacted by the effects of the restrictions of COVID-19, but with the relaxing of travel, to a degree, we must also remain very vigilant of any dangers of the disease re-emerging and necessitating further restrictions. The member for Schubert indicated just a minute ago that all the borders, with the exception of Victoria, are now open, so we need to be very positive about what we do and how we promote ourselves.
In looking at locations, such as the Clare Valley, where the communities rely heavily on tourists coming to experience their assets, I have noticed the innovative ways that the operators there have responded to the recent restrictions. They have vastly diversified how they operate and have improved some of their facilities to a great degree. I had the privilege of attending the official reopening of the Watervale Hotel on Sunday. Not only has this facility now captured the history of the hotel itself and the surrounding activities but it is also of a standard that exceeds some facilities in Adelaide and also interstate.
Tourists are attracted to stop in any location based on the standard of a facility and, very importantly, it is also based on the friendly service of the staff and management at those locations and their ability to understand and promote other activities in the region. In other words, we really cannot just focus on what we have in one certain location; we need to push those people on to the next location so they can spend their money further out.
Three councils, the Northern Areas Council, the District Council of Mount Remarkable and the Port Pirie Regional Council, are working collaboratively together to promote a mountain-bike loop by partnering together to get the best results and outcomes there. This will also complement the Riesling Trail and the Lavender Federation Trail around the Clare Valley, and also the Heysen Trail through the Southern Flinders Ranges. That will create an opportunity for people who want to go cycling or touring there. This creates a different attraction, where people wanting to have a cycling experience can traverse what will be a world-class trail, which will cover the Mount Remarkable National Park, areas of the Wirrabara Range, Telowie Gorge and also Spaniards Gully Conservation Park.
Whilst people may experience this activity, the challenge is for the surrounding locations—especially local councils—to be able to attract those visitors to stay in other communities away from these trails and spend time and money in the businesses in each of those communities. After all, this is new money coming in, and we need to capture that new money coming in. If we do not do that, then our existing retail and accommodation facilities will not be able to succeed in the long run.
To be able to attract these people to stay in these locations, councils need to ensure that their entrances, their signage, their attitude and other activities are of the highest standard. In my travels, I see certain locations that do not meet the criteria, and that is a real issue. There is nothing worse than coming into a community to see a very unattractive entrance, not well maintained, to see dilapidated signage and very poorly presented business facilities. I know times are hard, but if we are going to sell ourselves we need to promote ourselves in the best manner.
It is like selling your home: what do you do when you want to sell your home? You spruce it up. You maintain the garden and spruce it up, you paint the exterior, you paint the interior. You need to put a very good image out there to convince those people coming in to actually buy the house. No matter what the inside looks like, if the outside is not attractive then they will not go inside to look further.
I always state that the first impression starts with the attitude of the person coming in, and it is the location. If you are enthused and are in a good mood and are inclined to actually spend money, then you will contribute to those businesses. Just as important is the lasting impression of people leaving those locations. If they have had a good experience they will feel motivated and very contented and will promote a very positive message to their friends further out. But even if they have had a motivated experience in that location, what they see on their way out will be the last impression of their holiday, and that is what people express—that last image is what they will promote.
The member for Schubert has indicated there are some hotel accommodation vouchers going out. When governments put budgets out there for funding allocations, it is statewide. One thing I am concerned about is that regional locations always have to compete with the larger facilities and more affluent operators in the metropolitan area. The member for Schubert has indicated that there are hotel vouchers for $100 for the CBD of Adelaide but $50 vouchers for hotels in country areas.
Governments of the day should be equal in the distribution and opportunities for any funding. If it is going to be $100 for the CBD hotels, I cannot see why it should not be $100 to encourage people to get out into the regions. If you have to go to the regions from the city, then there is the extra cost of fuel—and that is another issue that the member for Florey has been highlighting—the cost of travel and the roads, etc. If there is going to be some funding, have separate funding for regional opportunities and operators. As I said, any budgets that are bid on by statewide operators put regional people at a disadvantage because they do not have the same opportunities or the same resources to compete.
Certainly, in supporting the member for Ramsay’s motion, regional South Australia in particular has a great opportunity. We need to be more proactive in our regions. We need to promote ourselves far better. We are certainly welcoming people. We need to get that funding out there. JobKeeper and Jobseeker are helping regional communities, but that will come to an end. We have a great challenges out there. We need to face these together and make certain we get everything right and promote people out there. If we do not do that, then these people will go under.
We know all already from stuff in the media just recently that there have been some regional tourism operators that just do not have enough activity, so they cannot keep their staff. And once those staff move on, all that knowledge and expertise is gone. We need to be able to maintain that and ensure our youth, our regional people, have the best opportunities to maintain their employment opportunities.