l seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Tourism questions about the decline in tourism visitation to Yorke Peninsula
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: And, yes, you and I, Mr President, have certainly done our bit to contribute to tourism on Yorke Peninsula—I just noted your quizzical look there, Mr President. As detailed in the draft Innes National Park Visitor Experience Plan, which was obtained through a freedom of information request from my office, the South Australian Tourism Commission has recorded a decline in the number of visitors to Yorke Peninsula from 2003, and the national and international visitors surveys show a decline of some 9.7 per cent over that period. The data also showed that visitors were most likely to visit Yorke Peninsula to go to the beach (49 per cent), go fishing (49 per cent) and sightseeing (32 per cent).
In September, the minister announced that $35,000 from the Tourism Development Fund was to be injected into a full-scale upgrade of the Moonta Bay Patio Motel and Restaurant into a premium option for Yorke Peninsula. My questions are:
1.Is the minister aware whether that decline has continued?
2.With a cash injection into the transformation of this motel, did the minister look into any initiatives to boost visitor numbers in the area to ensure that the funds will be utilised?
3.Has the minister considered possible future decline due to the state government's marine parks in this area and was this considered when the minister made that grant?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Tourism, Minister for the Status of Women) (14:44): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, it gives me an opportunity to talk about some of the fabulous successes we have had in tourism, although those opportunities do not exist throughout the whole of the state. Nevertheless, the bulk of the regions throughout South Australia have in the past been doing quite well in terms of tourism development. Going from memory from the last report, I think the two regions that have struggled are Kangaroo Island and Yorke Peninsula. They are the areas facing particular challenges, but, across the regions, generally speaking, there has been significant growth in the past, and we have been doing particularly well here in South Australia overall.
In fact, the total domestic expenditure in South Australia in the 12 months to June 2012 was $4.47 billion, an increase of 5.3 per cent from previous years. SA's growth was due to gains in both overnight and day-trip expenditure, and nationally the total domestic expenditure also increased. South Australia attracted over 5.2 million domestic overnight visitors, which was an increase of 4.1 per cent for the year ending June 2012. For the year ending June 2012, 19.17 million domestic visitor nights were spent in SA, and that was a 3.5 per cent increase on the previous year.
So you can see that the Hon. Michelle Lensink is being, as I said, very selective in her portrayal of how we are doing in this state, and that is the usual thing of the opposition. We know that the opposition come in here and all they want to do is talk down the state. All they want to do is bag the state, talk us down and shake public confidence. There are all these hard-working tourist operators out there—most of them are small businesses but many are family businesses—and all the opposition does is undermine the hard work of these operators. We are doing reasonably well in this state. We have a system—
The Hon. D.W. Ridgway: By whose standards?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Well, I've just read out the increases that we have achieved in our tourism growth, yet all we hear is bagging and talking down our state. All that does is undermine these small business operators, these hard-working families that are out there trying to make a tourism operation work. We have the opposition come in here day in, day out talking down and bagging this state and maligning the hard work of our tourism operators, who work in very hard circumstances. In fact, in the year ending June 2012, 3.3 million domestic visitors stayed in regional South Australia, which is 63 per cent of all visitors.
The PRESIDENT: Sorry, minister, can you repeat that? I am having difficulty hearing.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Yes, Mr President, they are a bunch of rabble-rousers over there. In the year ending 2012, 3.3 million domestic visitors stayed in regional South Australia, which is 63 per cent of all visitors and a 4.6 per cent increase on the previous year. Visitor nights in regional South Australia grew by 5.8 per cent over the period and also accounted for 63 per cent of all nights in South Australia, so our regions are doing quite well.
As I said, in the last report that I can recall, the two areas that were struggling were Kangaroo Island and Yorke Peninsula, and there have been a number of initiatives targeted at those areas. Tourism operators and key stakeholders in those regions have been given financial assistance to identify where tourism opportunities lie, because we believe it is the locals who understand the local tourism business best of all.
So, money was given to those locals for them to put together a set of priorities, a tourism plan for that region, and that is the plan that guides the funding that the SATC provides to assist those regions. Any grants that are given must align with that destination action plan, which is, as I said, driven by local knowledge, input and understanding. So, that is how we hook in and make sure that we understand what is happening locally. That is what has happened on the Yorke Peninsula as well.
In terms of marine parks, they offer an enormous tourism opportunity. Again, we see the opposition bagging and talking down opportunities. What they should be doing, if they were a responsible opposition, is assisting in promoting the opportunities for tourism. Marine parks will provide enormous tourism potential and opportunity because we know that our tourism tastes have evolved and changed over time. We know that tourism interest in eco and environmentally friendly initiatives has grown. We also know that the tourism experience has developed in a way that tourists now want the bigger picture. They want the story of the region and they want to understand how their experience and their—
The Hon. J.S.L. Dawkins: We've just had seven minutes of nothing.
The Hon. G.E. GAGO: Well, if you stopped interjecting I would be able to get through my answer much quicker. So again, marine parks offer an invaluable tourism opportunity to the Yorke Peninsula and other coastal regions.