Key tourism body reflects on 2019 and looks toward the New Year… ‘We’re on the verge of something big’

Destination Riverland general manger Caroline Phillips (left) and tourism co-ordinator Kate Gillespie are thrilled with the progress the organisation has made in 2019, including welcoming more than 160 locals into its ambassador program and gifting them with its signature pin. PHOTO: Morgan Burley

An increase in tourism expenditures, achievements and recognitions has placed the Riverland on the national stage, however the best is yet to come, says a key tourism body.
Destination Riverland general manager Caroline Phillips said 2019 had proven to be a “great year” for the region, with expenditures, visitors, and overnight stays increasing by 2 per cent.
“As a region, we’ve continued to push forward in the tourism space, which has been really great to see,” she said.
“But 2020 will be a big year for us.”
Destination Riverland and a group of key stakeholders – including local councils and industry partners – are developing the Riverland Tourism Plan 2030 to replace the current 2020 strategy.
“It’s a really exciting time for us as a region in terms of being able to step back, take stock of where we’re at, re-align our resources and look at where we can get the biggest bang for our buck collectively,” Ms Phillips said.
Ms Phillips said she was eager to see how the Riverland tourism sector would grow in the new year.
“We’re on the verge of something big,” she said.
“There’s been great growth in the region and new product over the last few years, we’re really starting to be featured more in state-based campaigns, and we’re increasing our popularity as a destination.
“I think this new tourism and strategic plan for the Riverland is a great opportunity for us to step it up a bit and seize the opportunity to ensure we are a key visitor destination, not just for SA but nationally.”
Destination Riverland introduced its Local Ambassadors program in July, and has since seen more than 160 Riverlanders undertake the course.
“(The program) has been a really big highlight for us this year,” Ms Phillips said.
“It really seems to be hitting the mark in terms of the types of people undertaking the course.
“We were really trying to engage the broader Riverland community – not just traditional tourism businesses – so all of our locals can promote their own patch as well.”
Over the past 12 months the Riverland welcomed Twenty Third Street Distillery’s new restaurant, Salena Estate’s new restaurant and cellar door and Pike River’s Riverland Wine Centre.
“Seeing that new product continue to emerge in the region is really encouraging,” Ms Phillips said.
“It shows that people see the opportunity here for investment and the opportunity to grow tourism in the region.”
The Riverland also welcomed “key individuals” to the region, including Premier Steven Marshall, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway and the South Australian Tourism Commission board.
“These sorts of visits are really important for us to ensure we are top of mind with key decision makers,” Ms Phillips said.
“I’m very optimistic about 2020 and the new opportunities it will bring.”

Morgan Burley

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Morgan Burley completed a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts (Writing and Creative Communication) at the University of South Australia in 2018. After growing up in regional Queensland and moving to Adelaide to pursue university, she has relocated to the Riverland to begin a career at The Murray Pioneer. She hopes to explore the region, connect with locals, and share the stories that matter for the community.

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