The Role of Tourism in Boosting Rural South Australia’s Economy

Tourism in regional South Australia has been booming. In fact, regional visitor spending hit a financial target nearly three years ahead of schedule in 2022.

However, restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted domestic and international travel and caused tourism businesses to reduce activity. Targeted, flexible policy solutions are needed to support recovery.

1. It creates jobs.

The tourism sector provides a large number of jobs to local people. In fact, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) states that one job in the core tourism industry creates up to 1.5 indirect jobs in the broader economy, such as hotel employees, travel agencies, guide services, local transportation and other related industries. This translates into an important economic boost for the country.

Furthermore, tourism also supports employment in rural and remote areas, where it is often one of the few viable economic sectors. It also helps to preserve and restore traditional activities, which is a major aspect of rural development and poverty alleviation. It is for these reasons that tourism is explicitly mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an explicit focus on job creation and livelihoods.

Developing tourism also requires investment in infrastructure. This includes creating roads and highways, parks, improved public spaces, airports and schools. It also involves building new accommodation and promoting the development of traditional crafts and skills. In other words, it is a way to create more jobs and improve the overall quality of life for people in South Australia.

However, this is not without challenges. The biggest problem is the mismatch between the qualifications of the workforce and the skills required by the industry. This can be caused by factors such as inappropriate management style, a focus on profit rather than training and staff turnover. It is therefore essential to develop and implement policies that aim to tackle this issue.

Another challenge is the low wage levels in the industry, with some studies indicating that women are paid 20-25% less than men for similar roles. This is a serious problem and must be addressed, especially as it has implications for other social problems, including poverty, inequality and gender empowerment.

In addition, the sector often has a seasonal nature, which means that in some months there is no demand for tourism and hospitality businesses to employ staff. This can have a huge impact on the jobs of those working in this sector. This is why it is important to work with communities to address these issues and to create robust career pathways for those interested in the industry. This will help to alleviate the problem of low wages in this sector and make it a more attractive option for young people seeking work.

2. It generates income.

Tourism is a powerful generator of income, especially in rural areas. It can contribute to the development of a diversified economy and help eradicate poverty. This is because it provides new revenue streams and creates new jobs. In addition, it helps improve the quality of life in rural/isolated communities. Furthermore, it can support biodiversity conservation and heritage preservation efforts.

Tourism is also an important source of revenue for the local government. It is a major contributor to regional development and can be used to improve public services. For example, it can provide funding for the construction of airports, roads, and other infrastructure projects. It can also be used to finance cultural events and provide scholarships for the study of language and culture.

Moreover, the industry is a significant employer and contributes to the economic growth of the state. According to CommSec, the state’s economy has outperformed most of the eastern states over the past few years and is expected to continue growing in 2023. However, there are some concerns about the slowdown in global economic growth, rising living costs and household debt levels.

The state’s population is growing faster than the national average, and the economy is generating high levels of capacity utilisation. The tourism industry is a key driver of this growth, and it will continue to grow in the future. In addition, the industry is benefiting from higher export prices.

In addition, the government is investing in infrastructure to encourage tourists to visit the country. This includes constructing more roads and highways, developing parks and public spaces, improving the quality of schools and hospitals, and introducing modern technologies to make transportation easier for travelers. This investment will help the economy of South Australia to grow even more in the coming years.

It is estimated that tourism will continue to grow at a fast rate in the next few years and will become one of the world’s largest economies by 2028. This is mainly because of technological advances in air travel and the decline in oil prices. This will make it possible for more people to travel around the world, and this will drive the demand for accommodation and other tourist services.

3. It boosts the local economy.

Tourism boosts the local economy by creating a range of income opportunities for the community, from generating jobs to supporting the development of local infrastructure. It also contributes to economic diversification and supports efforts to reduce poverty and inequality. In addition, tourism provides a vehicle for the sustainable use of natural resources and cultural assets and traditions.

However, it is important to understand that the impact of tourism on the local economy depends on the way that the industry is planned and managed. To ensure that the benefits of tourism are sustainable, it is crucial to involve the local community in the planning and management of RTPs. This will help to increase the level of participation in the economy and promote awareness of the importance of protecting biodiversity and other natural and cultural resources.

In South Australia, the local economy is being boosted by the booming tourism sector. Regional visitor expenditure has reached a record high, with the Barossa, Clare Valley, Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, Murray River Lakes & Coorong and Yorke Peninsula regions all exceeding their 2025 visitor spending targets. The minister for the environment, water and climate has said that this is a result of South Australians discovering their own backyard through a range of tourism experiences, including national parks and marine park tours, as well as interstate travel to regional destinations.

Economic impacts of tourism are based on direct expenditures by visitors (including entry fees, campsite fees and within-park accommodation), as well as indirect expenditures from the supply chain such as food and beverages and retail sales in the region. It is therefore essential that governments and their agencies develop and implement a robust approach to measuring these economic benefits, with specific attention given to the impact on regional communities and ecosystems.

Economic impact studies aim to quantify the net increase in wealth, measured in monetary terms, that tourism brings over and above the levels that would prevail in its absence. In some cases, negative economic impacts have been reported such as over-concentration of people in sensitive environments, insufficient or inappropriate infrastructure and development plans to handle tourists and the displacement of cultures in desirable destinations (Ewert & Shultis 1997; Nicolaides 2020). However, most reports indicate that tourism has significant positive economic benefits and is an important source of income for many local communities.

4. It contributes to the development of the local community.

Tourism is a huge contributor to the development of local communities. This is because it creates jobs, provides income, and promotes the preservation of cultural heritage. It also helps in the maintenance of ecosystems and in developing handicraft industries. Additionally, it helps in the creation of cultural and social events for the community. It can also help in improving local infrastructure and providing better facilities for education, health care, and business.

But not all of the benefits that tourism brings are good. For example, it can lead to overcrowding in some areas, which can have negative consequences for the environment and the local community. In addition, tourists may not always respect the local culture or traditions. This can cause a lot of irritation for the local community. However, if the community is careful and cautious in dealing with tourism, it can be beneficial for both parties.

In terms of economic development, tourism is a significant source of foreign exchange for developing countries. In fact, it is the world’s largest service sector, contributing one in ten jobs and seven percent of the global economy. The sector is also a major contributor to exports and foreign exchange earnings. In some cases, it can even provide a safety net for poorer nations and boost economic growth.

Tourism can also contribute to the growth of local economies by promoting trade and investment and providing employment opportunities. In addition, it can stimulate the growth of small and medium businesses. The sector can also play an important role in reducing poverty in rural and isolated communities.

The state of South Australia has a long tradition of creating and supporting sustainable and innovative tourism products. This includes new ways of doing business, delivering tourism services, and building a future for the sector. The state also focuses on protecting and managing its natural resources and promoting a low carbon footprint.

In addition, the state is making it easier for industry to access affordable and reliable water supplies. This is a key factor in enabling agriculture and other water-dependent industries to achieve their economic potential.