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New tourism grants aim to grow visitor economy through nature and heritage-based experiences

New specialty tours, pop-up and seasonal experiences and events could be set to grace iconic South Australian tourism places thanks to a new $550,000 round in a State Government grant funding to activate nature and heritage-based tourism initiatives.

The small grants will help fund the design and delivery of small scale tourism activations including shuttle transfers for biking and walking experiences.

The funding will be available via the $300,000 Nature‐Based Tourism Small Grants Program and the $250,000 Heritage Tourism Grants Program.

The Nature‐Based Tourism Small Grants Program is part of the $5 million Nature‐Based Tourism Co-investment Fund launched in 2020 to help businesses activate or build on existing ecologically sensitive tourism offerings in the state’s national parks, reserves, botanic gardens, and Crown land.

Director Tourism and Economic Development with the Department for Environment and Water Jo Podoliak said the small grants program provides grants of between $2,000 to $15,000  for small-scale and innovative projects to support tourism activation in South Australia, grow the economy and create jobs.

“This is about creating new tourism experiences including seasonal or pop-up ventures, as well as tourism events in parks and public places both in metropolitan and regional South Australia,” Jo said.

“We’ve listened to local tourism operators who’ve expressed an interest in designing and delivering small scale tourism activation projects such as wellness experiences in outstanding nature locations, guided cultural tours, winter campfire storytelling events and easy shuttle transfers for biking and walking experiences.

“This grant program gives tourism operators an opportunity to get these ideas off the ground, without the need to provide matching cash funds, which is a requirement for the larger grants under the fund.”

The $250,000 Heritage Tourism Grants program has been established to accelerate the development of heritage tourism experiences and stimulate investment in state heritage places.

“Grants of up to $50,000, provided on a matched funding basis, will support projects to activate state or local heritage-listed places or state heritage areas for tourism purposes,” Jo said.

“This might include adaptation of buildings to comply with accommodation standards, installation of bathrooms and kitchens, new tours of state heritage areas, or the creation of contemporary interpretive experiences.”

The program will complement the Heritage Conservation Grants program, which has been in operation since 2018 providing $750,000 in funding to support conservation of state heritage places.

“These new grants will help South Australia’s fantastic tourism operators to create enhanced and diverse experiences and tourism products that not only contribute to positive conservation outcomes but help build our state’s visitor economy and create jobs,” Jo said.

“New nature and heritage tourism offerings will strengthen our state’s appeal as a destination for unique, immersive and world-class experiences, especially as we transition out of COVID-19 restrictions.”

Meanwhile, a fourth round of the Heritage Conservation Grants Program is also now open for applications with a further $250,000 available for grants up to $20,000 for conservation works or documentation on state heritage-listed places.

The program aims to help rejuvenate South Australia’s built heritage by ensuring it is protected and preserved for future generations.

Grants are allocated on a dollar for dollar basis and priority will be given to projects which promote adaptive reuse and benefit the public realm.

Applications for the Nature‐based Tourism Small Grants Program and the Heritage Tourism Grants Program are now open and close on Friday 3 December 2021. The Heritage Conservation Grants Program is also open but closes Friday 10 December.

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