The Mighty Murray River, and our South Australian Houseboat Hirers Division, are enjoying a good summer following the dramatic floods of last year, thanks to the efforts of BIA’s SA Business Manager, George Bolton.

Having experienced a severe flood on the River Murray from November 2022 through to April 2023, when commercial houseboat operations ceased, operators had a major job in the recovery stage. This effort included the clean-up of both on and off stream marinas, reinstating infrastructure, pump-outs, fuel facilities, repairing damaged security fencing and recommissioning, cleaning, servicing the commercial houseboat fleet inside and outside.

Operations slowly came back to normal with the added incentive of the River Revival Vouchers as initiated by the BIA, with SA Tourism. Round 2 commenced from 23 July through to the end of November, when bookings were extremely low and the revival vouchers of $750 each greatly improved bookings through the summer period.

Back on 10 December 2023 the Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison, announced the launch of River Revival Vouchers Round 3, that included the continuation of the Houseboat and Guided Tours vouchers, (Round 2 that majority of operators participated in), noting that this new round, will be the last round.

The South Australian Tourism Commission surveyed people who redeemed a voucher in the second round, with results showing the $750 houseboat voucher injected almost $2.5 million into the regions, with an average spend of an additional $2,300 per trip, over and above the value of the voucher.

The River Revival Voucher Program Round 3 will include a $750 Houseboats and Guided Tour vouchers (minimum $1500 spend inclusive of the $750 voucher).

Key dates are Operator Expressions of Interest to participate had to be lodged between 29 January – 4 February 2024. Ballot registrations are open from 19 – 20 February 2024 and the ballot draw, and successful recipients will be notified by 21 February 2024.

Booking dates are from 21 February 2024 – 27 March 2024 and the travel period from 22 February – 30 June 2024.

This will provide a much-needed added incentive, to attract visitors to experience houseboat holidays on the River Murray in autumn and early winter, and will be a boost for all commercial houseboat operators. As at the 31 January the percentage of the total fleet booked for the following three months was 50.96 per cent and for the 6 month period is 33.33 percent, hence the need for this welcome assistance.

The BIA continues its advocacy for the Houseboat Hirer’s division, supporting growth in SA’s Tourism sector. BIA will be working closely with other East Coast house boat groups, in support of increasing domestic marine tourism and safe boating.


See you on the water.

Andrew Scott