Light MP Tony Piccolo defends regions in second round of 'Great State' voucher scheme

RESTRICTIVE: SA Light MP Tony Piccolo says premier regions such as the Barossa are being shortchanged in the tourism voucher scheme.

RESTRICTIVE: SA Light MP Tony Piccolo says premier regions such as the Barossa are being shortchanged in the tourism voucher scheme.

A long-standing state Labor MP has criticised the state government's second round of the tourism voucher scheme saying premium regional tourist destinations are being shortchanged.

The 'Great State' voucher scheme was rolled out by the state government in 2020 to enable "hardworking" South Australians to save on accommodation in metropolitan and suburban/regional SA.

Importantly, the initiative supported those working in tourism and hospitality sectors, following unprecedented times, which directly employs more than 40,000 in the state.

Yet in an email to the media, Light MP Tony Piccolo questioned why vouchers are worth only $50 a night in regions compared with $100 offered for Adelaide accommodation.

"While the voucher scheme is a good idea, the Marshall Liberal Government version discriminates against premium tourism regions like the Barossa," Mr Piccolo said.

"Some of the regions have done it very tough during the COVID-19 pandemic but are not receiving the same levels of support."

Furthermore, Mr Piccolo whose electorate takes in Gawler and surrounds, said the tourism vouchers "only covers 3.5 per cent of all the listings" found on the government-led website.

In response, a state government spokesperson said Mr Piccolo was "ignorant" of the economic impact of COVID-19 on the South Australian tourism industry.

"Data shows that CBD accommodation has seen a huge decrease in overnight stays and our regions are at or nearing normal capacity on weekends," the spokesperson told Australian Community Media.

"Stays at CBD and North Adelaide accommodation providers are traditionally made up of interstate and international visitors and these markets continue to be significantly impacted."

Reportedly, about one third of the vouchers redeemed so far have been $50 regional/suburban vouchers - and two of the top five accommodation providers where vouchers have been redeemed are in the Barossa.

"...South Australians have got in their cars and visited the regions to stay with accommodation providers across the state," the spokesperson said.

"The fact is the Marshall Government is investing substantially in our regions after years of neglect by the Labor Government Mr Piccolo was a member of."

But Mr Piccolo continued to argue that the scheme falls short of the $200 voucher proposed by the SA Labor party, which he said would have covered the entire state.

"The Northern Territory offers $200 vouchers, while Tasmania has a $150 voucher scheme in place for accommodation and experience providers," he explained.

"With many businesses suffering booking cancellations months or even years in advance, the tourism industry deserves a better and more inclusive voucher scheme," Mr Piccolo added.

Meanwhile, the South Australian Tourism Commission website highlights that the success of the first round led to a second round which was launched on January 5.

"When vouchers launched, they were snapped up in record time - with almost 75,000 vouchers allocated in just 39 minutes," the website shared.