The wheels of the Limestone Coast’s regional development are turning, with news emerging that a local destination strategy that would guide the promotion of the region is due in December.
The Limestone Coast Local Government Association (LCLGA) is currently completing the 2020–25 Destination Tourism and Marketing Plan, a publication to assist local governments in promoting the region.
It has been 10 years since the region has had a marketing plan. But now, councils have come together alongside the SA Tourism Commission to develop a “holistic plan for the region” around destination growth, tourism industry development manager Biddie Shearing told The SE Voice.
“This includes attracting people to the region, promoting the region, and attracting investment,” Ms Shearing said of the integrated plan, which would aim to unite the Limestone Coast’s 24 tourism groups.
“There are lots of little groups all around the region doing lots of great things—this plan is about providing some common ground for those 24 groups, but also for council and for other people like the SA Tourism Commission that promote our region.”
It follows the implementation of the LCLGA’s successful 2017–20 Visitor Economy Strategy, a guide executive officer Tony Wright said had played its part, alongside efforts by the SA Tourism Commission, in boosting visitation to the region.
“During the period of the Visitor Economy Strategy, the number of people visiting the Limestone Coast for tourism increased by 18 per cent and total spend increased by 27 per cent,” Mr Wright told The SE Voice.
“Not only were more people visiting the region, but they were spending more. This is based on a three-year rolling average to March 2020 when compared to 2017.”
The news comes shortly after reports that the redevelopment of Mount Gambier’s airport is expected to be completed ahead of schedule.
“In terms of the deadline, we’re confident that it will be achieved on budget and on time,” Grant District Council chief executive Darryl Whicker said.
“As I understand it, Kennett Builders are several weeks ahead of schedule and we might be looking towards the end of November.”
Alongside the construction of a new terminal, council has extended the main runway by 120 metres, built a new heavy aircraft apron and installed new lighting and electrical upgrades.
The SA Tourism Commission said it was aware of the Mount Gambier Airport redevelopment plans and said any improved access to the Limestone Coast had the potential to provide new tourism opportunities for the region.
“Regional tourism in South Australia is an economic powerhouse,” an SATC spokesperson told the SE Voice. “The SATC continues to work with operators in the region to grow the sector.
“SATC will look to support all of our regions, to not only recover regional tourism but grow it to meet the State Tourism Plan target of $4 billion generated in our regions by 2025.”
Mr Whicker welcomed the acknowledgment that the upgrade of the public Mount Gambier Regional Airport were on the radar of the tourism commission.
“We see the new Mount Gambier Airport as a key gateway to the Limestone Coast and we’re delighted that it is going to be picked up in the SATC’s regional strategy,” he said.
“This airport will be an integral part of tourism in this region.”