Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (12:46): I, too, rise to support this motion. The reason I rise to support the motion is that I think not only is the Limestone Coast a great attraction in regional South Australia but the regions of South Australia are complemented by the Limestone Coast. Starting my life on the Limestone Coast, or very close to it, I quickly learnt that every part of the regions in South Australia in particular has assets, and those assets are the destinations we all long to visit and all long to be a part of, none more so than the assets in the electorate of Chaffey—in the Riverland and the Mallee.
Some of the coastlines South Australia has are second to none. Every part of regional South Australia has its strengths, whether it is a coastline; whether it is visiting the beautiful Barossa, looking at some of the wineries, vineyards and historic assets they have; or whether it is travelling to Clare, which is very similar. If we look to other regions that have great assets, Eyre Peninsula has some of the most picturesque coastline in the world, and it also has some of the best fishing that I know. I must say that it is an absolute joy to get out into the regions and to visit probably some of my favourite playgrounds.
Tourism in the regions is a major South Australian contributor to its economy. For every tourism dollar spent in South Australia, 48¢ is spent in the regions. The regional visitor expenditure is up 25 per cent from pre-COVID levels. What it is showing is that not only this government but the former Liberal government have always prioritised regional tourism.
In the Riverland, tourism is a key economic driver—about $254 million into the Riverland's economy, with 300 tourism businesses in the Riverland, 1,400 people employed directly and another 500 indirectly. The 412 overnight visits is the important stat: that is when people spend money on accommodation, on meals, on food, and you get the value add.
Whether they are out driving around some of the beautiful horticulture settings, whether they are out enjoying the River Murray—some call it the Murray River—I must say that some of the year-round events up there are quite unique. The Dinghy Derby is unique to the Riverland and is also unique anywhere in the world, with the creek network up there.
Everywhere we go in regional South Australia we have food and wine festivals, live music and history events. The Riverland Rose and Garden Festival has been ongoing for many years now and brings in a lot of people. Murray River water sports and houseboat holidays are unique experiences like no other. Some other famed events are the sheepdog trials and the Running of the Sheep in Barmera and the True Grit festival in Cadell.
Some of those businesses that have reaped the rewards of government funding streams have gone on to bigger and better things. I know that Riverland Classic Limousines, Murray River Trails, Bellbird Tours, Orlando houseboats, just to name a few, have been recipients of taxpayer funding and have gone on to bigger and better things.
To grow South Australia's regional visitor expenditure by $4 billion to 2025 will take a commitment from the government. It will take a commitment from the tourism operators that are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. They take the leap of faith to build a business and to showcase the region they call home. Again, I call on the government to continue that legacy. Support to TiCSA for future funding opportunities is also important, just as it is for the South Australian Tourism Commission.
I must say that the South Australian Visitor Information Centre network in the Riverland is a great conduit. They are great institutions that give direction for people who come up to the Riverland, just as they do for any of the regional settings.
Everyone in this place at some point in time will visit a region. You will go up, you will take your family and you will have a great time. Whether you are visiting a coastal setting, a beautiful vineyard, historical sites or a waterway, do it. It is just a great experience, it is a great holiday and it is a great living, lasting memory for your children. To every visitor coming to South Australia, put the Riverland first on your list. Once you have visited the Riverland, you can go and visit some of the other offerings in regional Australia.
It is a good motion, well worth supporting. It is a motion that I think every member in this place should be a part of because tourism is such an important part of our economy. It is about supporting not only inbound but outbound tourism as well. Thank you to the member for Mount Gambier.