Post Flood Tourism Recovery Done Right – Lessons From the Murray Region for Far North Queensland.

January 11, 2024

How a Voucher Program Can Help Generate Economic Stimulus for Far North Queensland in the wake of the flood Disaster

In December 2022 a slow moving flood devastated the Murray regions of SA causing widespread damage to homes, infrastructure and businesses. The economic impact of the floods went beyond the immediate damage and required repairs as it disrupted the peak Christmas and holiday trade, meaning tourism businesses that normally build a nest egg to sustain them through leaner times missed out as holidaymakers cancelled or booked elsewhere. 

This situation has sadly repeated itself in Far North Queensland in the wake of Cyclone Jasper, with local, state and federal agencies urging people to continue with plans to visit the region, so as not to make what is already a bad situation even worse.

In South Australia, the government put in place a targeted (and very clever) campaign to incentivise and encourage holidaymakers to choose the river as a holiday destination. Rather than directly subsidising airlines or travel companies to offer discounts to the region they directly invested into tourism businesses through a river revival voucher scheme and supported this with marketing on what the region had to offer. 

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The benefits of this approach include:

  • Engagement of a very broad audience through the offer of a voucher with material value direct to the public opening up new markets including travellers that may not have previously considered the destination. This is evidenced by the voucher process being oversubscribed by a factor of 4 or 5 times.
  • The ability for the agencies to target specific businesses, verticals or geographies through limiting where vouchers could be redeemed. 
  • The publishing of a dedicated tourism flood recovery destination marketing site that showcases all the things to do and places to stay for voucher redemption, while reinforcing the message that the region is open for business. Anecdotal reports indicated that the campaign influenced holiday makers decisions to take a trip to the region even if they were not successful in winning a government voucher!
  • The ability to rapidly launch a program using the Nabooki technology in just a number of weeks, and have a streamlined process around the engagement of tourism operators and distribution of funds
  • Ensuring that government support packages go directly to the businesses that need the support without large corporations clipping the ticket on the way through. 
  • Providing for a strong return on investment, with the voucher component only making up a small percentage of total visitor spend.
The South Australia Tourism Commission continues to utilise vouchers to stimulate tourism in flood affected regions of South Australia.

SATC is now launching Round 3 of the river revival program and has been wildly successful in supporting tourism and economic stimulus after the flooding natural disaster.  Visitor numbers through traditionally off peak times were up on pre-flood experience, with many participating tourism operators reporting that the voucher program significantly contributed to business viability through what would otherwise have been a very challenging time. 

Such an approach in Far North Queensland would have a significant impact on supporting the very important tourism sector in both the short and medium term and would arguably be even more successful given the affordability of travel routes, breadth and scope of things to do in the area and public sentiment from across Australia to support the region.

Read more information about the River Revival Voucher Program and how Nabooki’s economic stimulus program can assist your business or organisation. Alternatively, for support, contact us at [email protected].

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