Tourism operators prepare for a long weekend rush

The Queen's Birthday is giving tourists, and industry operators, reason to celebrate.

Tourists are expected to return to the Murraylands in big numbers this long weekend, the first holiday period since coronavirus restrictions began to lift.

With pubs opening and riverboats cruising once again, Murray River, Lakes and Coorong tourism development manager Julie Bates said it was likely to be a busy few days.

“I’ve heard there has been strong demand, particularly for the self-contained accommodation – holiday homes and caravan parks are all doing really well,” she said.

“It's very encouraging at this point.

“A lot of operators have said their phones have been ringing.”

Cruises aboard the PS Mayflower will resume at Mannum on Saturday, and the MV Proud Mary, pictured, will again depart Murray Bridge for the first time on Sunday.

Not all operators will get to share in the rush – Zoos SA announced on Tuesday that Monarto Safari Park would not reopen until at least July 3, as managing the current COVID-19 restrictions would not be feasible.

But every one of the 11 campgrounds in Ngarkat Conservation Park was booked out by Tuesday afternoon, along with seven of 18 in the Coorong National Park.

State Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said about 1100 campground bookings had been made over the two days since campgrounds reopened.

The surge has coincided with a state government marketing campaign titled “Welcome Back”, encouraging South Australians to get out and see the sights available in their own backyard.

“There are still spots available, so our message is simple: make a booking online and get out there and see what our natural environment has to offer,” Mr Speirs said.

“The long weekend is a perfect time for South Australians to get on the road and explore.”

However, he asked tourists to keep following COVID-19 guidelines, remaining an appropriate distance from each other and maintaining good hygiene.

Monday will be a public holiday in honour of the Queen’s Birthday.

Photo: SA Tourism Commission.