Tourism minister visits Kilsby

IN THE DEPTHS: Kilsby Sinkhole owner Graham Kilsby took SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex and South Australian Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison on a tour through their renowned attraction which has drawn the attention of international cave divers in the past.

Tyler Redway

LABELLED as a prime target for tourism, the Kilsby Sinkhole will be one of the attractions in the Limestone Coast to participate in a South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) advertisement campaign, backed by a $45m state-wide tourism industry fund.

South Australian Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said a large portion of the funding would go towards a larger central campaign, while smaller regional areas would receive promotion with more details yet to be be revealed.

“We are already in the market, but we need a little bit more and Kilsby Sinkhole is a key hero product,” Ms Bettison said.

“The sinkhole is already in the current marketing campaign we have and we are looking to go further with it as we make decisions.”

The campaign aims to showcase South Australia internationally to entice overseas and interstate visitors to consider coming to the South Australian regions for a holiday.

Ms Bettison said the funding will be distributed over four years, while specific details on amounts of funding for the regions are yet to be decided.

She added the Limestone Coast has previously had a higher level of international tourists than any other region in the state and the reopening of the borders would make a big difference.

“I think it’s a little bit untapped and there is so much more for us to encourage, not just South Australians but people from interstate and overseas, to come down and visit and spend time in this beautiful area.”

South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) chief executive Rodney Harrex, who visited the sinkhole with Ms Bettison last Thursday, said it was a great opportunity to hear how South Australians engaged with the Limestone Coast.

He said having the Limestone Coast involved in the current SATC campaign sends a strong message to consumers.

“It challenges consumers about what’s available in the region and it’s a great way to get the message out,” Mr Harrex said.

“The last two years have been incredibly challenging and the SATC have worked hard with businesses through programs like vouchers and the tourism industry development fund.”

Kilsby Sinkhole owner Graham Kilsby said the SATC had promoted the business very well and said although the pandemic greatly affected tourist numbers, it also helped by enticing more local people to explore their own state.

“When we reopened, Covid was horrible but it did actually help our business because we had more of those local people from Adelaide to Melbourne who came to Mount Gambier who had never been here before,” Mr Kilsby said.

“Now that they have been here I think we will see them revisit.”

Mr Kilsby said the funding would certainly help push their latest accommodation and café projects further in development but said he did not want to add too much to the site due to it being a protected area.

“We have to remember we have to protect this site as well,” he said.

“There is always that capacity you can take but you don’t want to flog it too hard.”

He added the sinkhole had not received many international visitors as yet but hoped it would soon increase with the campaign.