The South Australian government says South Australian travellers could hurt the local tourism industry if they fail to choose direct flights overseas.
SA Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith says up to half of South Australia’s travellers are opting for connecting flights via the eastern states rather than flying direct to and from Adelaide and that is having negative effects on the state’s tourism industry.
“If South Australians are determined to support Sydney Airport they’ll actually be damaging our local tourism industry,” she said.
“So even if you have to fly overseas, support the airlines that support South Australia, book in and out of Adelaide directly and then we’ll get even more flights, we’ll make the flights we have viable and we’ll be able to attract more tourists.”
Opposition tourism spokesman Michael Pengilly says the Government should take some responsibility because it cut the tourism marketing budget by $600,000 last year.
“If you cut the marketing budget and don’t work to attract international visitors you can’t expect to have those numbers coming in and then have the capacity to fill the planes on their way out,” he said.
“The other state governments are putting a lot more money into marketing their destinations than South Australia is.
“We’re relying on pot luck to get international visitors into here rather than cold hard cash and marketing budgets and that’s what has to happen, so they’re working much more aggressively than the Rann Government in South Australia to get visitation increased to SA.”
The SA Government says it is keen to increase the number of direct flights to and from Adelaide.
But Dr Lomax-Smith says the Opposition is wrong about the budget, which has increased by more than $2.5 million over the past year.
“I think that they have misunderstood the budget documents because the reality is we’ve invested more than ever – the biggest-ever winter campaign in South Australia, spending $2.1 million on the east coast which is our most lucrative origin of tourists,” she said.
“On top of that, the overall spend has gone from $26.27 million up to $28.95 million.”
Rann goes indirect
The SA Government has defended the Premier’s decision to catch a connecting flight through Sydney when he left for the United States on his current trip.
A spokesman for Mike Rann’s office says the Premier always chooses to fly direct, but in this case no direct flight was available from Adelaide to Los Angeles.
The spokesman says Mr Rann will be flying direct from Singapore to Adelaide when he returns from overseas.