The Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Ridgway, is visiting 19 regional centres and on Tuesday he made a stop to Port Pirie, where he gave local tourism operators the opportunity to discuss their issues and concerns.
With seven visits already completed, Mr Ridgway said that the biggest issue that has been brought to his attention so far is a lack of large- scale marketing for smaller businesses, which compile of a full tourism region.
“You can have a small offering in your region, but they need the tourism commission to drive the international market to them”, the Minister said.
“There are always regional issues around infrastructure, product development, there are also issues around trying to retain workers as they turn over big numbers. Marketing is the one I think that is at the top of the list.”
As he is originally from the country, he understands the importance of speaking face to face with local tourism operators and taking their issues directly back to a summit which will be held in Adelaide after his tour.
“I know the real importance of getting out, meeting the local operators and talking about the things that concern them,” he said.
“It is very easy for the government in the city to tell people what is good for them, but I actually want to hear the issues that small tourism operators in the region have.”
The Mayor for the Port Pirie Regional Council, John Rohde, appreciated the Minister’s visit to the City of Opportunity and believes our region has two very important strengths in terms of tourism.
“I think it is really important, particularly in the Southern Flinders Ranges to have the Minister here. He needs to hear from local tourism operators, members of councils, as to what we are doing and what we are trying to do here to build the tourism economy,” he said.
Port Pirie has developed a strong event tourism and that is continuing to grow through the gymnastics invitational and the Master Games which will be visiting the city next year.
“We want to build that event economy, that supports our local businesses, that brings people into our town, that then allows us to give people a base and then they can go out and explore the region. I think event-based tourism is a great start”, Mayor Rohde said.
As the gateway to the Southern Flinders Ranges, Port Pirie is a service stop for many, providing fuel, groceries and accommodation.
But as Mayor Rohde explains, Pirie is a base for many, where they can stay here and venture out into the ranges and he believes that should also be targeted in our tourism marketing.
“In this region, it is about building a product that draws people to us,” he said.
“We are a little bit farther out of the city and, to get people away from the Barossa and McLaren Vale, you need to have things that really are attractive. The basic thing that we have to sell is the beautiful nature and organic feeling of being out here.”