Prince William & Kate, Duchess of Cambridge urged to visit South Australia
Prince William and Kate could visit South Australia as part of a tour of bushfire-devastated communities, with Premier Steven Marshall set to send a formal invitation to the young royals.
The Advertiser understands Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in talks with Kensington Palace about a tour of towns hit hardest by the fires.
Mr Morrison is expected to write to the palace later this week about a proposed itinerary. Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills mayors have welcomed the potential trip, which could attract more tourists to the recovering regions and send a global message they are open for business.
“The State Government will be issuing an invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit the fire affected areas in SA,” Mr Marshall said.
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said: “This would be a huge opportunity to get the message out there that SA is open for business and that we want tourists to visit.”
“I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we can project vision of Kate and William walking along a pristine beach or untouched bushland on KI to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.”
It would be the royal couple’s first trip to Australia since 2014, and follows Prince Harry and Meghan’s 2018 visit. Kensington Palace and the Commonwealth are expected to decide on dates and locations for the visit.
Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly said a royal visit would inject confidence back in the community, farming and tourism sectors.
“They’d need to talk to victims, people who were burnt out, but they’d also have to see … a couple of our well-established tourism icons,” he said.
“Hurry up and come.”
The island’s last royal visit was from Prince Edward’s wife Katharine, the Duchess of Kent, in 1995. Adelaide Hills Mayor Jan-Claire Wisdom said a visit would show fire-affected towns that “people are thinking of them”.
Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie, whose electorate covers the two regions, said the community would be “thrilled” because the focus had been on the eastern states.
“Their visit would boost morale and direct world attention to, not just the devastation, but on the wonderful attractions still there to enjoy on KI and in the Adelaide Hills,” she said.
The SA Tourism Commission is encouraging Aussies to visit the fire-ravaged towns of Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.
Prince Charles was the last member of the royal family to visit South Australia in 2015.
UNSW Business School’s Tim Harcourt, whose expertise includes recovery from natural disasters, said the royal tour could bring in more than $1 billion in tourism income.
“It’s one of the single biggest ways to get people to come to fire-affected areas,” Mr Harcourt said.
Tourism Australia recorded a 125 per cent increase in web traffic from Britain when the couple went to Uluru in 2014.
Prince William and Kate offered their condolences to bushfire victims nationwide in a statement last month.
“We continue to be shocked and deeply saddened to hear about the fires that are destroying homes, livelihoods and wildlife across much of Australia,” the statement said.
Premier pushes tourism revival
The crucial nature of domestic tourism to the recovery of places like Kangaroo Island will be a key focus of a tourism summit in Adelaide on Wednesday.
Premier Steven Marshall, in his first speech to the tourism industry since taking over as Tourism Minister, will promise to invest more in the sector as it looks to rebuild from devastating bushfires, drought and the impact of the coronavirus.
Mr Marshall will speak about the importance of domestic tourism to places such as Kangaroo Island.
While it is a world-renowned destination, local tourism outstrips international visitors at a rate of about four to one. “In the weeks and months ahead, we will be working hand in glove with the tourism sector to help regional communities, especially those affected by recent bushfires and drought,” Mr Marshall said.
“The full impact of the bushfires and the coronavirus on our state will be significant, and tourism will play a key role in the economic recovery. As a Government, we are prepared to dig deep and invest in ways to drive more tourism here, particularly from our interstate neighbours as domestic tourism will be key to recovery.”
Hundreds of delegates are expected to attend SA’s first-ever Visitor Economy Summit.
Tourism Industry Council South Australia chairman Eoin Loftus said the bushfires directly affected the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island but the impact continues to be felt statewide. “However, I have noticed one thing is different from previous public debates when similar events have happened – no one is debating whether or not tourism is important,” he said.
“We have, arguably for the first time, seen our Government and community on mass rally alongside the many businesses that drive the visitor economy right across this country.”
Originally published as Wills & Kate: Come to SA