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More than $300,000 flows to Mid Murray tourism operators

Murray River tourism businesses impacted by a once-in-a-century flooding event receive a boost from the state government

Caravan parks, houseboats, tour operators, shack accommodation and other Murray River tourism businesses significantly impacted by the once-in-a-century flooding event will receive a combined $315,000 boost from the South Australian State Government to support recovery.

Grants from $5,000 to $50,000 will be allocated to 14 tourism businesses throughout low-lying Murray River regions as part of the South Australian Tourism Commission’s Mid Murray River Tourism Business Support Program.

The $315,000 in grants will assist tourism businesses in the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions with critical recovery projects such as marketing, infrastructure replacement, powerhead installation, landscaping, cleaning, and equipment replacement.

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The project development will help increase the overall value of tourism products available in South Australia’s Murray River regions and support the future longevity of the businesses.

The 14 businesses receiving grants under the Mid Murray River Tourism Business Support Program are:

  1. Blanchetown Caravan Park
  2. Cobdogla Station Caravan Park
  3. Foxtale Hire Services
  4. Frankie & Calla
  5. Freedom Boat Hire
  6. Griffens Marina Blanchetown
  7. Mannum Oldwares & Curios
  8. Morgan Riverside Caravan Park
  9. Juggle House Experiences
  10. Kingston On Murray Caravan Park
  11. Rivergum Cruises
  12. River Shack Rentals
  13. Swan Reach River Retreat
  14. Wow Houseboats

The funding announcement coincides with the Santos Tour Down Under Hahn Men’s Stage 4, which is commencing in Murray Bridge. This marks the first time the Santos Tour Down Under has visited Murray Bridge since 2020 and the first-ever Men’s stage start in the town. The event serves as a platform to spotlight the region’s ongoing recovery efforts from the significant flood event of the previous summer.

A third round of the River Revival Voucher program is set to launch next month, extending support beyond the traditional summer peak season and continuing through June. The voucher program has already injected $10.7 million into the Riverland and Murray River, Lakes & Coorong regions.

Prior to the flooding event in 2022-23, tourism in these two regions was collectively valued at $436 million. By June 2023, the industry’s value had surged to $562 million, underscoring the sector’s resilience and potential for growth.

The $315,000 in funding for the Mid Murray River Tourism Business Support Program is part of the broader $500,000 Mid Murray Tourism Recovery Fund, a commitment made by the State Government in February 2023 to provide assistance to severely impacted businesses along the low-lying regions of the Murray River. This comprehensive fund also includes support for councils to promote new events and dedicated marketing support for affected tourism enterprises.

The Mid Murray Tourism Recovery Fund is an integral part of the $4.6 million river recovery plan, which encompasses initiatives like the ‘Rise Up for our River’ marketing campaign and the River Revival Voucher program.

Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison emphasised the importance of this financial boost for tourism businesses and expressed excitement about the return of the Santos Tour Down Under to the Murray River, Lakes & Coorong region, as it brings attention to the region’s recovery and revitalisation efforts.

“We haven’t taken our eyes off the river, making sure our support has been targeted to when and where it is most needed, and this latest financial boost will go a long way to helping businesses such as caravan parks and houseboat operators recover and welcome visitors the way they want to,” Zoe said.

“Helping further recovery efforts, it’s exciting the Santos Tour Down Under will return to the Murray River, Lakes & Coorong region – when Murray Bridge welcomes the race for the first time since 2020.”

Tour operator Kelly Kuhn of Juggle House Experiences/River Murray International Dark Sky Reserve Tours expressed gratitude for the financial assistance, highlighting how it would positively impact several businesses and tourism offerings in the region.

“As a tour operator showcasing the gems of the Mighty Murray, this cash injection multiplies providing aid to several businesses we visit,” Kelly said.

“This financial assistance provides confidence and enables us to build on efficiencies of our internationally declared Dark Sky Tours, including the creation of a pilot Mindfulness Aboriginal Astronomy event, purchase of vehicle equipment, development of online tools including a new website, astrophotography course and merchandise. 

“We could not be more grateful for this assistance as a shining light of hope starting our New Year with the opportunity to bounce back stronger. We have welcomed more people back to South Australia’s natural playground over summer and we look forward to this continuing.”

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