Eyre Peninsula tourism operator Craig Haslam thinks the industry has come a long way, but says there is still a need to lift the area’s profile to international visitors to make it a must-see on their visit to Australia.
Mr Haslam has more than 15 years of industry experience and said that tourism was growing in the region thanks to marketing.
“At one of the tourism conventions I used to have 13 minutes to pitch to wholesale brochure advertisers and 10 minutes of that would be spent explaining where we were but now, it’s at the point where people know where (the Eyre Peninsula) is,” he said.
In 2016/17, the tourism industry contributed an estimated $227 million to the Eyre Peninsula region’s economy and directly employed approximately 1800 people.
The South Australian Tourism Commission said that the unique interactions with local wildlife, the scenery of uncrowded beaches and the seafood were very appealing to both domestic and international visitors.
The commission said to improve the industry the region needs to promote these competitive strengths.
Mr Haslam originally began with a pub and eco-friendly accommodation in Port Kenny, but has expanded into tours and packages across Eyre Peninsula as the industry has grown.
He now has 10 vehicles to run the tours.
“I also had a casual worker to help run the tours, but as of September 1 they [became] full time to help me meet demand,” he said.
He said the market in the area attracted domestic guests and traditional international tourists, with many of his guests travelling from Europe and the United States, although an Asian market was emerging.
While the area is known, and the volume of tourists is increasing, Mr Haslam said international guests did not know how to get to the region.
“Ninety-five per cent of my business is international, but internationally, people don’t know how to get here directly,” he said.
“Wholesalers ask them just to get to Adelaide and we sort them out from there in our packages.”
Mr Haslam said work still needed to be done to ensure international guests added the region to their list.
“If it keeps growing we can keep our kids employed.
“Sustainability is key, we want to grow the place to make sure it’s on peoples bucket list.”