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Bouncing back from COVID

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Opening the doors to the region’s tourism boost

article by
EMMA CLARK
>> Tourism Barossa chairman, Jon Durdin with regional tourism manager, Cathy Wills see opportunity for the region making the most of South Australians travelling to the Barossa.

Barossa cellar doors are operating their business on a slightly different model but were pleased to be able to trade in time for the recent June long weekend.

The new phase of operation following strict COVID-19 restrictions has also come with encouragement to book ahead for your next experience at your favourite restaurant or cellar door.

Tourism Barossa chairman, Jon Durdin  said it was great for the Barossa to be able to open for the long weekend and welcomed with that the lifting of restrictions for tour operators.

He said cellar doors are able to open, albeit in a slightly different model than usual with restaurants at a point where they are making the new rulings work with their operations.

It has been a challenging few months for the region with the national pandemic but Jon is confident the Barossa is coming out the other side, saying it is a relief strict restrictions are easing.

“The Barossa is really well placed, particularly with the winter to target travellers who would normally be overseas at this time”

- JOn DURDIN

While there are some still grappling with these restrictions and additional steps to keep COVID safe, Jon said he’s not surprised that a lot of operators are moving to a booking model.

“It is still far from normal capacity and you will see a lot of operators implementing a booking system,” said Jon.

“I think there is going to be quite a few innovations that were put in place to deal with the crisis that will continue going forwards.”

Jon said a booking system allows people to have an intimate and connected experience and he added it would be interesting to see those restaurants who have pivoted to a takeaway offering will continue to do that.

“There has definitely been a great connection with that and it has enabled people to have a high quality take away meal later in the evening,” said Jon.

Jon sees an opportunity for making the most of South Australians travelling to the Barossa, citing the $3.2 billion that is normally spent by South Australians each year for overseas travel as a huge opportunity for the Barossa to capitalise on.

“The Barossa is really well placed, particularly with the winter to target travellers who would normally be overseas at this time,” said Jon.

“To welcome them to the Barossa in a time that normally is a bit quieter for us but there’s an opportunity for high quality visitors.”

He said Tourism Barossa is working closely with the South Australian Tourism Commission and the State Government to target and build awareness for travel within the state.

“For me, there’s no better time to be a tourist in the Barossa in winter,” said Jon.

“It’s time for people to get out of their homes and go and see the cellar door that you always said you wished you could go and see that you never got time to. It is a great time to reconnect with the community and bring your friends to the Barossa for the weekend.”

He said as tourism starts to re-open across the region, visitors are looking for quality and quietness over quantity.

More are taking up the various cycle and walking options around the region and other experiences the Barossa offers.

“We are finding that people who are coming to the Barossa are are trying to fit less in and would prefer to slow down and enjoy a couple of quality activities,” said Jon.

“They love the experience of going slow and not try and cram too much in.”

Jon was mindful too of the importance of the community being comfortable to have tourists back into the region.

“The Barossa loves hospitality and loves building personal relationships and visitors will  enjoy that as they return,” said Jon.

“We did expect to see quite a few people over the long weekend as it was the good first opportunity for a lot of Adelaide locals to get out and hopefully that keeps the momentum up for the rest of winter.”

With a new look winter food and wine festival being deferred this year, Jon said there’s big plans now for the 2021 Barossa Vintage Festival.

“It will be a real community celebration of having got through this together and we look forward to that being launched later this year,” said Jon.

Work continues on bringing the programme together for the event and Jon hinted of the opportunity for innovative and small events.