Vouchers to help flood-hit Murray tourism bounce back
Tourism vouchers will be used to lure travellers to areas of South Australia hit hard by the Murray River flooding.
More than 25,000 vouchers will be released through ballots over three rounds this year with the first to be launched in March to help tourism businesses along the river, including some that were forced to close for several weeks.
With values of $50, $100 and $200, the vouchers can be used for experiences and accommodation in the Riverland and Murray River, Lower Lakes and Coorong regions.
Premier Peter Malinauskas said the campaign was a big step in the right direction to get people travelling again, spending up, filling the cafes and pubs, and helping river economies recover strongly and sustainably.
"For us, it was important to get this right, and to make sure the vouchers can make a difference to tourism operators right along the river," the premier said.
"We were conscious of the fact that the campaign had to be equitable and timely, and importantly, create a strong call to action."
The first round of vouchers will be valid for travel during April, May and June, including the Easter break and the April school holidays.
A $750 houseboat voucher will also be introduced for winter and spring when houseboats are expected to be fully operational again.
To further support river communities, a broader tourism advertising campaign will be launched across TV, print and social media.
Before the flooding, tourism across the region was worth $436 million a year and directly employed about 2800 people.
As water levels rose to those not witnessed since the record floods of 1956, about 4000 properties including homes, shacks, and businesses were inundated or impacted in some way.
Some businesses were also isolated by levee systems put in place to hold floodwaters back.
Murray business operator Tony Sharley said the upcoming tourist season would be spectacular with visitors getting to experience a revitalised river system with flourishing forests and rejuvenated wetlands.
Tour operator Kelly Kuhn described the voucher system as a saviour for small business.
"The vouchers are a direct and fast cash injection to our river communities providing aid in bouncing back to business," she said.