News release - Ian Hunter MLC & Leon Bignell MP
07 February 2018
The Australian Walking Company (AWC) will build eco-sensitive accommodation facilities on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail – creating 30 full-time jobs – with the support of a State Government Future Jobs Fund grant.
The $832,889 grant goes toward the $4.8 million project cost to develop luxury tent-style eco-sensitive accommodation and other facilities, initially at two sites along the Wilderness Trail.
More than 2,400 people have walked the 61-kilometre Wilderness Trail since it opened in October 2016, with 1100 future bookings for the five-day, four-night trek.
The AWC brings together partners with 30 years of experience in operating high quality, multi-day wilderness walks – including the Twelve Apostles Lodge Walk, the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk, the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, and the Wineglass Bay Sail Walk.
In January 2017 the State Government called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) then a Request for Proposal (RFP) to develop accommodation facilities and services associated with the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.
The AWC and partner Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC) are respected industry leaders in adventure tourism, as founding members of the Great Walks of Australia collective.
The AWC partnership includes Rob Sherrard and Brett Godfrey, who purchased the Tasmanian Walking Company in 2013, and Geoff Dixon and Scott Malcom. Godfrey and Dixon are widely known for their roles as CEOs of Virgin Airlines and Qantas respectively. Both are former board members of Tourism Australia.
Walks owned and operated across the partnership have won multiple awards, demonstrating their commitment to delivering the highest quality ecotourism walking products in Australia.
The Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is a key pillar of the State Government’s nature-based tourism strategy: Nature Like Nowhere Else.
The $5.8 million trail was a State Government commitment at the last election, designed to strengthen Kangaroo Island’s reputation as an international tourist destination.
Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said:
"The stunning Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail is worth sharing with as many people as possible, and attracting operators of this calibre will greatly benefit domestic and international tourism on KI and across our state.
I am delighted that the AWC will work with the State Government to develop eco-sensitive accommodation facilities to complement other accommodation along the trial.
We are confident in selecting the AWC, given the company’s excellent credentials and commitment to preserving the natural environment in which they operate.
The AWC’s involvement will do much to raise the profile of South Australia as a major eco-tourism destination while also providing a significant number of local jobs for those involved in the building project and later working in the accommodation facilities.
The AWC’s experience, insight and access to global markets will increase the exposure of Kangaroo Island as a premium destination, enhancing the international and domestic appeal of KI and the State."
Tourism Minister Leon Bignell added:
"The KI Wilderness Trail has been hugely popular with visitors since it opened in 2016 and was chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the Best New Openings in 2017.
New luxury eco-sensitive accommodation along the Wilderness Trail will encourage more visitors, further enhancing Kangaroo Island’s reputation as one of the must-see destinations in Australia.
Kangaroo Island is now more accessible than ever with direct Qantas flights from Adelaide and the $18 million airport expansion almost complete.
More than 141,000 people visited Kangaroo Island in the past year and tourism directly employs 500 people on the Island, with a further 900 indirectly employed.
This development, and the 30 new jobs it will provide, is great news for the Kangaroo Island community and is expected to contribute $1.8 million in total visitor expenditure by 2020."
Spokesperson for the Australian Walking Company, Geoff Dixon added:
"We are thrilled to have the support of the South Australian Government to develop what will be AWC’s first start-up operation, and the next step in our quest to raise awareness of guided walks in Australia.
Our off-the-grid sustainable luxury tented accommodation will be a reflection of Kangaroo Island’s remarkable landscape, and provide support to our educational and immersive walking experience within the Flinders Chase National Park."
Photos: examples of current eco-sensitive accommodation created by AWC elsewhere in Australia.
Communications and Media Officer
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