Murraylands can be premier hosts

Next month’s Masters Games are a gold medal opportunity for the Murraylands region. I’m proud and excited that Murray Bridge will be hosting the 2018 instalment of the South Australian Masters Games, with the regional event to be held April 19-22.

Hosting this event for a second time helps establish the Murraylands as the premier destination for regional sporting events in South Australia.

There are enormous economic and tourism opportunities in hosting the Masters Games, both immediately and into the future.

When our regional city hosted this event in 2016, more than 600 visiting competitors registered to participate. Those competitors brought with them other visitors such as their support teams, family and friends – for a total of nearly 1200 visitors.

More than two-thirds (69pc) of all event registrants were from interstate or other regions. Together the participants and visitors recorded 4316 visitor nights in local accommodation. That three-day regional event brought over $900,000 of new expenditure to the Murraylands region.

After including the flow-on effects through the local economy, this represents a tourism benefit of nearly $2 million, according to an economic report commissioned by Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland (RDAMR) and the Rural City of Murray Bridge.

The foresight and willingness to invest shown by the Rural City of Murray Bridge should be commended, as it has allowed businesses to maximise the economic benefit.

While these are fantastic outcomes, we shouldn’t settle on the results. Let’s strive for more. There are opportunities to increase the economic impact the Masters Games will have on our region.

I’ve spoken previously about the Bend Motorsport Park and how businesses can secure additional revenue from the facility’s events and visitors.

Businesses could do the same for the Masters Games. For example, hotels and holiday parks in the Murraylands could offer shuttle bus services for competitors and visitors between their accommodation and event venues each day.

For small businesses, especially retailers who usually work with local demand patterns, this could mean extending their opening hours to include evenings for post-event shopping or opening on the weekend when they’re normally closed.

The businesses may also like to consider offering special deals or discounts to Masters Games competitors and visitors. These gestures, along with providing world-class customer experiences, will make them more likely to return.

We’ve brought people to the Murraylands, hosted an exceptional regional event, showcased our food and wine, and interested them with our unique attractions and experiences – why wouldn’t they want to come back for a holiday?

To do so, we’ll need to showcase everything that’s good about the Murraylands. This is an invaluable opportunity. I’m looking forward to seeing businesses rise to the challenge and help our region stake its claim as the state’s premier regional destination.

To help maximise the benefit of this year’s Masters Games for your business, contact Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland on 8535 7170.

Jo Podoliak,

CEO Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland