Big benefits to exploring our own backyard

Big benefits to exploring our own backyard

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the northern Flinders Ranges offers spectacular scenery.

Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in the northern Flinders Ranges offers spectacular scenery.

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While there is still an exceptionally long road ahead, it's pleasing to hear some SA tourism operators are starting to see visitor numbers slowly pick up again.

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While there is still an exceptionally long road ahead, it's pleasing to hear some SA tourism operators are starting to see visitor numbers slowly pick up again.

Often, when we talk about tourists, we think of those from overseas or interstate, but the recovery of state's tourism sector is reliant on South Australians getting out and exploring their own backyard.

While agriculture remains the cornerstone of our rural areas, tourism is also massively important, and in 2019, visitors spent a total of $3.3 billion in our regions.

Thousands of small businesses across the state directly or indirectly rely on tourism expenditure to survive. The money made by tourism operators is spent in the local town, helping other small businesses succeed. In regions like the Flinders Ranges, where recent seasons have been especially tough, income from tourism has been more important than ever.

Related reading: SA regions benefit as residents turn tourists

On a personal note, if you'd told me at the start of the year that I'd have to cancel my overseas travel plans for June, I'd have been rather disappointed. But, given all that has unfolded so far in 2020, I'm just grateful to be in good health and living in SA.

The present situation meant my travel itinerary changed from Heathrow to Hawker and from Windsor to Wudinna, although I did at least still get to sample the delights of Dublin - albeit in a slightly different manner to what I'd initially planned.

I'd forgotten how good it was to be a tourist in my home state. I've travelled throughout SA during my time with Stock Journal, but travelling without appointments to keep or deadlines to meet was a very different experience.

I think many of us fail to appreciate what a special part of the world we live in. There are so many world-class experiences on our doorstep, be it flying over Wilpena Pound, watching sea lion pups play at Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island, whale watching in Fowlers Bay or star-gazing at Arkaroola - and I barely scratched the surface.

Add in Coffin Bay oysters, King George whiting, Coonawarra wine and more vanilla slices from country bakeries than I care to admit and I was as happy as a pig in mud. There's nowhere else I wanted to be.

So while Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews might feel the need to ask why anyone would want to go to SA, my recent travels left me with a very different question.

Why would anyone ever want to leave?

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