What do you think are the opportunities, challenges and barriers to growing heritage tourism in South Australia?

Read Developing a strategic direction for heritage tourism in South Australia and join in the discussion below.

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Tegan Whalan

17 Sep 2019

I think the biggest barrier to great tourism in South Australia is the under-investment in the people to bring tourism alive.

Many tourist attractions in South Australia are supported by volunteers - either on the front desk or as tour guides or, worse, in developing marketing materials and websites. While volunteers and their work ethic is phenomenal, for South Australian tourism to be taken seriously, it needs to engage skilled staff. Tour guides, welcome/reception staff, people who have a great presence, great people skills, and are able to deliver stories in a way that fascinates and delights a visitor. Some volunteers do, of course, but many do not. We'd be far better off hiring based on skills instead of recruiting volunteers based on willingness and availability.

Every single great tourism experience I've had was made wonderful by the people with me. Posting interpretive signs and hoping the tourists come is not enough - I want someone to share a story inspired by the scenery. If I wanted to read, I'd get a book and stay at home.


In terms of opportunities, thinking specifically about my region of the lower north, there is an abundance of 100+ year old buildings with wonderful stories, including quaint store fronts in many regional towns. With a little paint and love, at least the facades of these buildings could be revitalised to brighten main streets into the image of yester-year. Tourists frequently look for photo opportunities, and a colourful, unique, historic street could be just the thing to appear on an Instagram feed.

In many towns, the great heritage tourism is not clearly signposted. I still haven't found the perfect place to take a photo of Hamley Bridge, and I drove past the turn for Stockport Observatory, then drove up and down the road for an age before entering the wrong gate. The Saddleworth Church is beautiful, but I wasn't sure if I was allowed to drive in to take a closer look... All of these problems could be solved with signage showing me exactly where to go.

The old railway line, and associated buildings, are a beautiful historic link to the age where trains ruled over trucks. There's so many opportunities to tell stories along the line, bring to life the old buildings, and remember an age where coal was king.

The Clare Valley and Barossa are well promoted as a wine centres - but even I struggle to know what to do in those places if you're a non-drinker. The wine is one drawcard, but surely there's more to the region than alcohol. There may be opportunities with the Ngadjuri to celebrate their rich history with bush tucker, ancient art, and sites of significance.

Thinking further beyond, there are several places I love in South Australia - and places that I think, given the opportunity, could really motivate tourism to the state.

Adelaide is an amazingly designed city - because it WAS designed. While other cities were made piece by piece, Adelaide was made at once as a settlement free of the convict stain. This elitism still influences South Aussies today - down to the way we speak. This unique story can be celebrated all throughout Adelaide.

Mount Gambier is the most under-rated place in South Australia - and maybe Australia. It has amazing geology, resulting in a phenomenal cave experience. Beside it's interesting and natural beauty, the old structures in the town are stunning. If other parts of the South East are considered, the drainage history of Millicent, the caves of Naracoorte, the run-away holes in Mundulla. Yet I sadly see so little promotion of this area beside the picturesque Blue Lake.

The outback is a uniquely Australian experience that international tourists seek. Port Augusta is well promoted as the gateway to the outback, with Wadlata's tourist centre, and the stunning arid botanic gardens. But beyond that, we can do more at Woomera, with it's military background, at Roxby Downs, with its mine tours, with the arial views from William Creek, with the brilliantly fascinating Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs. These unique outback experiences are what people visit Australia for.

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Andrew C

11 Sep 2019

The biggest barrier is SA's attitude to heritage is extremely negative especially when it comes to preservation.
You need to look towards how its done in the UK where the heritage economy is massive and creates thousands of jobs.

The challenge is the multi layer of government who are never on the same page about heritage and its potential benefits.

There are many opportunities to build on what you already have in State tourism. The Wildlife and Nature and Food and Wine aspects as they all have heritage links. Wildlife and Nature links very much to Aboriginal history while the more modern food and wine has links to historic colonial settler families.

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Chris Blaikie

10 Sep 2019

Unfortunately our recent economic stimulus and accelerated works program by council has resulted in the destruction of much of the public infrastructure heritage of our town and area. Some of these structures and heritage places were included in our local heritage survey of mid 2000s. This made no difference to council planning or protection of these assets.
For an authentic heritage experience that visitors will enjoy, these more peripheral assets need to be preserved - not just the 'stately homes' and private buildings and houses. The everyday heritage items of the community and public spaces give an accessible context to any visitors heritage experience.
We now have no stone bridges in town (maybe one small and endangered one) despite having 3 a few years ago. I am not just however talking about bridges. Streetscapes, stone guttering and water infrastructure and heritage street tree plantings have all been destroyed.
The challenge is for council to have a consistent vision and willingness to mange these things for their heritage value and not just 'wish them away' as they have been doing. The antique shop owner gave up on the place and left town because of the council's attitude to heritage issues.

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