In 2019, Tourism eSchool (now The Tourism Collective) established a Destination Situation Analysis which involved consultation with all levels of industry, Government and community to identify major opportunities for effective and sustainable visitor economy growth for the region. The findings of this deep consultation resulted in the development of the 2019-2024 Clare Valley Tourism Region Destination Marketing & Management Plan.
Within a year of the Plan’s release, the world as we knew it changed. COVID-19 halted domestic travel for major interstate and international source markets for almost two years. In addition to reduced inbound visitation, skilled migration ground to a halt, exacerbating regional skills shortages, having a significant effect on worker burnout, and the delivery of exceptional customer experiences. Many have described the effect of the pandemic on intrastate visitation as a perfect storm; pent-up demand, economic stimulus (job keeper), and South Australians desperate to enjoy a local holiday to shut the external pressures off. Regional tourism in South Australia quickly accelerated beyond all forecasts, with most regions enjoying similar, if not increased visitor spending to pre-pandemic levels.
The Clare Valley Tourism Region enjoyed a period of sustained growth during this era, welcoming many visitors who had not been to the region before, or many years ago.
However, it is important to recognise that with the opening of international borders in early 2022 and most restrictions lifted by late in the same year, this unprecedented boom in visitor numbers has ended and the focus now should be on ensuring the region maintains (or at least halts the decline) in positive growth of the visitor economy.
Further to this, in early 2023 the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) announced they would be undertaking a Regional Review to determine the most effective and efficient way of managing tourism in the state’s tourism regions. Whilst these findings have not yet been handed down, for many regions things will change. The Clare Valley Tourism Region’s Regional Tourism Manager (RTM) is fully funded (0.6 fte) by the SATC, in comparison to other regions with up to 2 FTE’s (part funded by SATC, LGA, and industry). This means the resources available to deliver on strategic actions within the CVTR DMMP is limited by the physical availability of human and financial resources at hand.
As a result of these factors, RDAYMN commissioned The Tourism Collective (TTC) to review current DMMP to prioritise the actions that with will have the greatest impact for the final year of the plan.
To determine and prioritisee the most relevant opportunities for updated Action Plan, TTC reviewed the current DMMP against recent visitation data and consumer research along with the facilitation of over 10 hours of listening with 13 regional stakeholders including tourism 5 operators, Clare and Gilbert Valley Council, Regional Council of Goyder, Regional Development Yorke & Mid North (RDAYMN), the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC), PIRSA, industry and relevant local associations.
A revised 12-month Action Plan has been created, considering the current state of play, visitor trends and feedback from the consultation. It was determined that of the 95 original action items in the DMMP, many have already completed, however, some are no longer deemed a strategic priority for the next 12 months, and there were new actions determined as priorities. As a result, the updated action plan now has 37 actions, which focus on connection, collaboration, advocacy, experience development and industry capacity building.