Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (14:24): My question is to the Minister for Tourism. Can the minister update the house on how she is supporting and encouraging tourism businesses in the Riverland? With your leave, and that of the house, I will explain.
Mr WHETSTONE: Minister, tourism businesses across the Riverland have suffered from negative media reporting related to the much anticipated high flow event in the River Murray.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON (Ramsay—Minister for Tourism, Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (14:24): Thank you very much, and I recognise as the local member that you are advocating for the electorate that you live in. Obviously, this high-flow event is something about which to be alert but not alarmed. The Premier spoke yesterday on TV that we can still visit the area, but of course to listen to the emergency safety concerns. We know things can change very quickly.
Most recently, we have seen some advice that hopefully it won't be as impactful as predictions have said, but we have many weeks to go before we know what the full extent will be. As I understand, over the next six weeks that flow will come down. Right now, we have had calls into our Murray Lakes and Coorong for the regional managers there. Bill Nehmy I talk to regularly—the commissioner has been talking to him—and Pamela Canavan in the Riverland.
We are very aware of people's behaviour. We have certainly seen post COVID or now within COVID that people book very late and they are also incredibly risk averse. While South Australians have been enjoying their own backyard exceptionally, and certainly the Riverland has done very well—particularly the upper end, the Murraylands, achieving already its 2025 Regional Visitor Strategy goal—we know that people are risk averse, so we will continue to talk to those providers.
I talked to the person who runs the Mannum Hotel and River Shack Rentals, Dave, just yesterday. He is concerned that people are not booking. My main message would be: if it's safe to do so you can visit, but you must be aware that things can change rapidly. We will continue to do that. When we know what the impact will be, we will have a look at what we can do to encourage visitors to go more and more.
The previous government had a very successful BookThemOut campaign, which was after the bushfires. We know that we have to go out there and let people know when it's safe to do so. I will commit to you as a whole that I am very aware of this. I'm talking regularly to operators. Tony Sharley and I had a quick back and forth message conversation. Actually, it's a beautiful time to see the Murray River. It's exceptional to see the way it is at high flow and, in fact, you will see the beautiful wildlife and the beautiful wildflowers. When we know that it's safe, and it is right now, then we would encourage people to go there, but they must be aware that things can change rapidly.
We just heard the people are going down from Environment and SA Water to check the levees, and I think it's important that we listen to hear what other additional support might be needed to make sure it continues to be safe. We are very focused on this. Those phone calls have been happening. I've actually got Miranda Lang, who is on the ground in Loxton today, talking to people, understanding what parts are going to be impacted, if at all, and they will continue to provide that information.
Jenny Turner, who is a director of communications, is part of ZEST (Zone Emergency Support Team). Jenny is hearing firsthand what the needs are there, so we are very close to the ground. I recognise that we need to make sure our messaging is clear, but we also need to be aware that things can move quite quickly.