Murray River Trails has won Gold in the 2021 South Australian Tourism Awards held in Adelaide the past week. “The win is our fourth consecutive gold medal in the Ecotourism category, and is a tribute to the resilience and brilliance of our guiding team who deliver world-class walking, paddling and cruising experiences on the Murray River,” said owner Tony Sharley.
For Riverland based owner-operators Tony and Susie Sharley, “this ecotourism award shows setbacks can be overcome and recognises the importance of the Murray River to the future of Australia’s visitor economy. Ecotourism is an opportunity for river communities to develop a more sustainable economy by creating high yielding experiences that celebrate a healthy river when water is invested in environmental flows. This is the great opportunity for Australia–to create a destination like no other that builds on an $11 billion dollar tourism industry already in the Murray-Darling Basin.”
They committed Tony and the Murray River Trails team to help people discover the magic of the Murray River. They demonstrate that resilient businesses can survive setbacks such as COVID-19 and man-made drought in the river, providing that advocacy and leadership are in play at the highest level.
During Covid, they closed their 2020 walking season because of the high number of interstate guests who could not travel to South Australia. This prompted them to reset their business model to enable faster recovery from Covid, by adding 2 new multi-day guided tours to offer more tours all year round. They re-branded from Murray River Walk to Murray River Trails, and we secured an SA Tourism Industry Grant to help build a purpose-built houseboat with ensuite bathrooms, perfect for post-Covid touring and the premium offering they deliver.
“We congratulate all finalists who are all winners because they represent the emergence of a new and more resilient tourism industry — and we thank TicSA, ATEC, the SA Tourism Commission and Tourism Australia for their advocacy and support over the past 18 months.”
Edited by: Stephen Morton
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