David Ridway visist Clare

Tourism Minister David Ridgway speaks to the crowd at the Wine, Food and Tourism Centre on Tuesday evening.
Tourism Minister David Ridgway speaks to the crowd at the Wine, Food and Tourism Centre on Tuesday evening.

Some of the tourism industry’s biggest hitters gathered at Clare Valley Wine, Food and Tourism Centre on Tuesday afternoon.

Headlined by Tourism Minister David Ridgway, the event titled “Meet the Minister” allowed tourism operators in the Clare Valley and surrounding areas to discuss key challenges and opportunities that can be addressed over the next four years.

The event featured presentations from Mr Ridgway, South Australian Tourism Commission Chief Executive Officer Rodney Harrex, South Australian Tourism Industry Council CEO Shaun de Bruyn and Clare Valley Alliance member Warrick Duthy.

Following these presentations, an open forum took place where attendees could ask questions directed at Mr Ridgway, Clare Valley Tourism’s Mim Ward and Glen Roberts of the Regional Council of Goyder.

Key issues that arose during this discussion included Burra’s role as a tourist destination alongside the Clare Valley, enticing tourists to stay mid week and for longer periods, the proposed Clare Art Gallery and tapping into the Chinese tourist market.

The visit was made possible after an offer was extended to Mr Ridgway by the SATIC prior to the Liberal Party’s win at this years state election.

“We talked to the Minister about this prior to state election and we said ‘if you get over the line we would love to take you around the state and introduce you to the industry’,” Mr de Bruyn said.

“He was really enthusiastic about it and as a result we are here today.”

The visit to Clare by Mr Ridgway and company was one of 17 across regional South Australia.

Mr Ridgway said the Clare Valley remained a key player in the government’s wider plan to attract more tourists to the state.

“Clare is a major part of our food and wine offering,” he said.

“The challenge is always to get people to disperse more out to this part of the world, and it has been a challenge for a long time.

“We will continue to try and market South Australia, try to push the more tourists we can get into South Australia the more are ultimately going to come to this part of the world.

“It is about trying to market the state more and get more people up to the Clare Valley.”

The SA Tourism Commission has set a target of $8 billion generated into the visitor economy by 2020.

Mr Harrex revealed during the event on Tuesday that the state is on track to meet this target.