July 15, 2024

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South Australia boosts nature-based tourism with $2m fund and applications open Monday

3 min read

Photo: Flinders Island Eco Escape

The SA government has announced that nearing the midpoint of its four-year plan, the Experience Nature Tourism Fund is set to launch its third round of grant applications. With a total of $2 million dedicated to boosting nature-based tourism, this initiative underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing South Australia’s appeal to both domestic and international visitors.

Since its inception, the fund has distributed nearly $1 million across 33 innovative projects. These include crucial improvements such as accommodation refurbishments, the acquisition of specialty tour equipment and vehicles, as well as essential marketing and content development efforts. These enhancements have significantly strengthened the state’s tourism appeal by enriching visitor experiences across various natural landscapes.

As the third funding round approaches, applications with proposals for new or enriched nature-based tourism offerings located in proximity to South Australia’s national parks, marine parks, reserves, or wilderness protection areas are invited. Prospective grant amounts will range from $10,000 to $50,000, aimed at propelling businesses towards creating or improving sustainable tourism experiences that highlight the state’s natural beauty and ecological diversity.

The Experience Nature Tourism Fund, administered by the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) in collaboration with the Department for Environment & Water and the South Australian Government Financing Authority, is set up to ensure that tourism endeavours align with environmental preservation and sustainability principles. This careful balance aims to maintain the integrity and splendour of the state’s landscapes while catering to an increasing interest in eco-tourism.

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison, stated “We want to share our state’s incredible natural landscapes, rich cultural history and stunning wildlife with domestic and international travellers in a responsible and sustainable way. As we continue to work to grow visitor numbers, I encourage South Australian tourism businesses to consider an application to the Experience Nature Tourism Fund.”

Jonas Woolford, owner of Flinders Island Eco Escape (pictured above), shared his positive experience with the fund, saying “Our Experience Nature Tourism Fund grant has helped us substantially improve the customer experience. We were able to buy a second-hand 4-wheel drive to offer guests a vehicle to explore the island in comfort and an iPad with a mapping application and information for self-guided tours, so guests can enjoy this wild place of immense natural beauty at their own pace.”

Commenting further on the benefits, Woolford added that the financial aid also facilitated upgrades to their off-grid solar battery and panels, enhancing their capacity to host more guests. The result has been an upsurge in bookings and favourable reviews, affirming the value of improved facilities supported by the fund.

Tourism operators across South Australia are encouraged to seize this opportunity to elevate their offerings, contribute to the regional economy, and participate in the ongoing development of South Australia as a premier destination for nature enthusiasts from around the globe.

Details concerning eligibility and application procedures will be available as of Monday 8 July 2024, with a deadline for submissions on Friday 16 August 2024. Those interested should prepare to explain how their projects could enrich South Australia’s tourism landscape while ensuring ecological responsibility.

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