One of South Australia’s most iconic tourism destinations at Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges will undergo a $3 million transformation and take on new management to improve the visitor experience, increase patronage and in turn create local jobs for the region.
NRMA Parks and Resorts, which is one of Australia’s largest transport and tourism operators, has been appointed resort manager for South Australia’s iconic Indigenous-owned Wilpena Pound Resort in the Flinders Ranges.
The $3 million joint investment by the Marshall Liberal Government and Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) will transform the visitor experience with works to start in the coming months.
Premier Steven Marshall said the State Government is investing $130 million into park improvements across the state to boost nature-based tourism and improve conservation.
“The Flinders Ranges and outback offers a truly unique visitor experience for tourists from across Australia and, when global travels begins again, for people from across the world,” Premier Marshall said.
“In 2020 intrastate visitors to the Flinders Ranges and outback region grew 86 per cent between the March and June quarters going from 66,000 overnight stays to 120,000.
“This $3 million joint investment will reposition Wilpena Pound Resort at Ikara Flinders Rangers National Park to a world-leading Indigenous cultural destination, improving the visitor experience, boosting the state economy and creating local jobs.”
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the appointment of NRMA Parks and Resorts followed an expression of interest process led by Wilpena Pound Resort.
“NRMA is one of Australia’s most respected tourism operators and improved infrastructure will further enhance the region as an internationally recognised iconic tourism destination,” Minister Speirs said.
“This one-time investment to upgrade critical infrastructure will also create unique experiences that showcase the cultural and natural aspects of the national park and improve infrastructure for overnight and day visitors.
“This region is home to a range of unique world-class experiences including some areas which are currently being considered for World Heritage status.
“This investment in the Flinders Ranges follows other significant projects the Marshall Liberal Government has started in the region including at Mount Remarkable National Park and Nilpena.”
NRMA Parks and Resorts Chief Executive Officer Paul Davies said his organisation is proud to have been selected to partner with South Australia’s iconic Indigenous-owned Wilpena Pound Resort in the Flinders Ranges and the South Australian Government.
“NRMA Parks and Resorts brings to the partnership its well-known expertise in the successful and sensitive operation of 44 holiday parks and resorts across Australia, with the backing of Australia’s largest and most-trusted member organisation, the NRMA,” Mr Davies said.
“We’re looking forward to showcasing the amazing Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park to our members and to those travelling to discover Australia’s great regional destinations.
“And we are excited to support the vision of the Traditional Owners, the Adnyamathanha people, IBA and the South Australian Government for Ikara Wilpena Pound to become the premier Indigenous experience in the country.”
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is co-managed with the Traditional Owners of the land, the Adnyamathanha people.
The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association in joint venture with IBA, bought the resort in 2012. Since then IBA worked with the Traditional Owners to create opportunities for local employment in the tourism industry, focusing on celebrating and sharing local culture.
Under the owners’ guidance the resort went from zero to 60% Aboriginal employment in five years, creating a substantial investment in the region.
“IBA is committed to enhancing the tourism experience of the Ikara Wilpena Pound Resort for visitors and most importantly to support employment and training opportunities for the local Adnyamathanha people,” IBA Executive Director, Government & Public Relations Sean Armistead said.
“Appointing NRMA Parks and Resorts to the management of the resort brings a wealth of knowledge and experience of the tourism industry to the region.
“Increasing tourism opportunities will in turn grow the economic independence of the Adnyamathanha people and may provide contract opportunities for other local Indigenous suppliers.”
“The combination of high profile management by NRMA Parks and Resorts, cultural knowledge by the Adnyamathanha people, and capital investment by the South Australian Government and the IBA is a winning equation for both tourism and the local economy.”