Speech notes for webinar to approx. 100 Tourism Industry Council of South Australia (TiCSA) members.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to discuss tourism with our operators.
For those that don't know me, my name is Zoe Bettison and I am the Shadow Minister Trade, Tourism and Investment.
I was born in Whyalla and raised in Kapunda.
When I was growing up my Mum and Dad ran a business, they were the local funeral directors. We lived next door to the business and I understand the pride and stress involved.
At the age of 17, I experienced life changing opportunity of spending a year in Malaysia as a Rotary exchange student which opened my eyes to the world, I also lived in Darwin in my 20s.
I have BA in Asian Studies from Flinders University and a MBA from Adelaide University.
Prior to being elected, I worked for Great Southern Rail as their Government Relations Manager.
My professional life has been about advocating for business and now I bring those skills and experiences to you.
My role is to call out when I see gaps from the government and advocate for the tourism industry.
I have spent the past 2 years reaching out and talking to people in the industry. And I set myself a KPI – that people would call me for help.
Until recently my focus has been on the $23 million budget cuts. These were deep cuts that sent our spend on marketing backwards.
I launched the Tourism Equals Jobs campaign with a focus on the importance of the tourism industry to our economy – as an employer, an investment attractor and the spread of its impact across the whole of SA.
Late last year the tourism barometer reflected what many of you had been telling me – business confidence was down – and this is before the bushfires, the ban on Chinese travel and the pandemic.
I called it out at the time but now that seems like a long time ago.
The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit industries in SA in response to COVID-19.
You were the first to close, and for those of you who are focussed on international travellers there is no timeline yet for the borders to be open again.
While JobKeeper has enabled some of your businesses to survive – we know now that will end soon.
It was great when Dr Spurrier announced travel to the regions was encouraged again and I am pleased to hear the long weekend saw many places booked out.
Intrastate tourism is important to SA and the Welcome Back campaign reminds people of our great backyard.
But there is no doubt the impacts of COVID-19 will be with us for some time.
This is a very different presentation to what I would have given 6 months ago.
The world has changed.
It is positive news that Singapore Airlines, Malaysian and Cathay Pacific have re-established their direct flights to Adelaide – but let's remind ourselves before COVID-19 there was 47 international flights from 9 different airline every week.
It will take dedication and commitment for us to get back to those levels.
The questions we are all asking:
- Is there pent up demand or reluctance to travel?
- Will the layouts of our wineries, restaurants and cafes change permanently?
The volatility, uncertainty and complexity is likely to continue.
The state election is 18 months away and I am forming up what the Malinauskas Labor tourism policy will be.
One of the questions I ask myself every day is, what is the role of Government?
It seems to me the role Government in tourism is to plan, invest in marketing, events and infrastructure. And for major events to manage them.
We can do better to utilise South Australian talent.
Whether it’s smart wayfinding from Tonsley, electric vehicles made in Edinburgh or supporting new local festivals – there is a lot of untapped potential in South Australian ideas.
I call this concept Smart Tourism. Ways in which we can invest in local ideas that can help local businesses.
Technology can never replace the people-oriented nature of tourism. It should assist it.
My point is that whenever someone spruiks a new idea, a new marketing plan or new technology – we should always ask “How will this make the visitor experience better?”
It can be very easy to get caught up in fads or trends, but if we always have the customer in mind, we can’t go wrong.
I want to evoke what happened in response to the Great Depression.
The US implemented a series of programs called The New Deal, which was designed to be a pathway for recovery.
The New Deal was new reforms, infrastructure projects and regulation changes to turbocharge the economy.
And so, my question is: Where is SA’s New Tourism Deal?
This is our chance to restart the conversation about how Government can engage with the private sector.
We need a New Tourism Deal - that takes tourism seriously.
A New Tourism Deal that gives a complete roadmap for all tourism industry sectors to reopen.
A New Tourism Deal for new tourism infrastructure projects.
A New Tourism Deal about red-tape reduction and regulation reform.
How can Government and the private sector work better together?
In the Dunstan era we saw leadership that changed how we embrace tourism, hospitality and the arts.
Dunstan scrapped the 6 o’clock swill, brought in BYO laws and alfresco dining. As Premier of the day, he championed a food and wine culture.
As a result, from 1968 to 1983 the number of Adelaide restaurant licences went from 30 to 401.
More recently under the Weatherill Labor government we have experienced increased vibrancy with the strong investment of small bars in the Adelaide CBD.
The small venue licence legislation introduced in 2013 resulted in the opening of 110 venues operating with the licence by 2019.
An economic review calculated this led to the creation of 1250 jobs (685 full-time), often younger people involved many as owner managers many with a focus on supporting SA food growers, wine and spirit distillers.
What this shows us that we have the runs on the board in South Australia with creative solutions.
We can take tourism seriously and there will be benefits for all South Australians.
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
I know that it your efforts every day that make us a great place to be a tourist.
It is one of the most difficult times we have faced as an industry.
As we dust ourselves off, restart and rebuild.
I want to be a key part of the conversation as we look to the future.