Published: July 15, 2019

South Australians have never been able to fly direct to the US but the State Government desperately wants that to change — and it’s about to get its best shot at a “speed dating” conference in Adelaide.

A direct flight from the United States to Adelaide is the State Government’s number one priority ahead of a conference regarded as “speed-dating for airlines, airports and governments” in Adelaide later this year.

The Government and Tourism Industry Council South Australia will get their best-ever shot at securing a direct flight from North America at September’s 25th World Route Development Forum.

They say this — along with the fact that Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham hails from SA, and the launch of a Crocodile Dundee-focused campaign pitched at the US — has created the best conditions yet to make the dream a reality.

Los Angeles is understood to be the target destination for Adelaide, meaning tourists could travel non-stop from the southern Californian city to Adelaide in about 17 hours.

September’s conference is expected to bring more than 3000 tourism and airline delegates from more than 130 countries to Adelaide over three days. It is the first time the World Route Development Forum will be held in Australasia. Face-to-face meetings will make up the core of the three day event leading to the “speed dating” moniker from industry insiders.

The opportunity comes at an important time for South Australia with recent declines in international visitor numbers prompting calls for more marketing and products to boost the industry.

Statistics released last month show in the twelve months to 2019, 49,000 visitors to South Australia were from the US — a 27 per cent drop from the year before when 66,000 Americans visited the state.

TICSA chief executive Shaun de Bruyn said the conference offered South Australia a unique opportunity to make the case for a direct US to Adelaide route.

“It is extremely important and a great opportunity to influence key decision-makers from airlines around the world on what our state has to offer,” Mr de Bruyn said.

“Direct air access to North America is the number one new air route priority.”

Senator Birmingham said South Australia should have high ambitions to attract more airlines and more routes in and out of Adelaide.

“The potential of a route between Adelaide and the US should continue to be looked at closely,” he told the Sunday Mail.

“We also shouldn’t underestimate the significance of having the biggest players in world aviation converge on South Australia later this year.

“SA will be front and centre when the biggest aviation companies have discussions about new air routes or expanding capacity on existing routes, and that can only be a good thing.”

Acting South Australian Tourism Minister Tim Whetstone agreed.

“Direct flights from the US to Adelaide are a key priority for the Marshall Liberal Government,” Mr Whetstone told the Sunday Mail.

“Ultimately, the long-term goal is to build upon that growth with an eye to future direct flights to South Australia. Securing World Routes 2019 is a huge coup for SA.”

Opposition tourism spokeswoman Zoe Bettison said the Government had been “very quiet on flight attraction and has cut the tourism budget”.

“Tourism equals jobs, it is a growth industry,” she said.

If a non-stop flight is off the table, direct flights — that require a single stop to drop off or pick up new passengers or refuelling — will also be seen as a win for South Australia.

California Dreaming - SA's pitch for Flight USA by Matt Smith originally seen in the Sunday Mail (SA) July 13, 2019. 
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