Kangaroo Island tourism icons hop to strong start for 2022

South Australian Tourism Commission

Kangaroo Island has delivered a double shot for the state’s tourism sector with two significant announcements signalling a strong start to 2022.

The first sod being turned on the $50 million re-envisaged Southern Ocean Lodge and the opening of a $3 million redevelopment of Kangaroo Island Spirits today highlight an optimistic future for one of South Australia’s most loved holiday destinations.

Premier Steven Marshall said both events showcased the resilience of the island’s community and the business confidence to grow the region’s visitor economy.

“Tourism is worth over $270 million to Kangaroo Island – with one in every two jobs linked to tourism, so it is a massive shot in the arm today to see SOL 2.0 start to rise up, and to unveil a major expansion at KI Spirits – both creating jobs and building tourism and business on the island,” he said.

Southern Ocean Lodge was destroyed by the bushfires in January 2020, with the team from Baillie Lodges committing immediately to rebuild, recover and reinvigorate the eye-catching cliff top property.

“It is a remarkable achievement from the entire team at Baillie Lodges to commit to bringing back an absolute champion of South Australian tourism. Rebuilding Southern Ocean Lodge – a truly world-class destination on Kangaroo Island – is not only an enormous show of confidence in how our state will strongly bounce back, but also in the future of tourism and business on the island,” Premier Steven Marshall said.

“Before the fires, 60 per cent of Southern Ocean Lodge’s market was international – high yield visitors who came to our state, came to Kangaroo Island, and injected significantly into our visitor economy.

“They not only stayed at the iconic Lodge, but they travelled across the island – spending at local tourism businesses, taking tours, dining at restaurants and pubs. Today is a massive step forward – and a confident shout out that we’re open for business, and that SOL 2.0 will be ready with open arms in 2023.”

Premier Marshall toured the Hanson Bay site before visiting Kangaroo Island Spirits at Cygnet River to open its $3 million expansion project.

The distillery received $500,000 last year through the South Australian Tourism Commission’s Tourism Industry Development Fund – a $20 million fund designed to stimulate growth and diversity across the state’s tourism regions. In total, 114 projects were supported by the Fund – unlocking $82.7 million worth of new and improved tourism infrastructure.

“This is fantastic investment that has enabled a complete upgrade of the cellar door, an immersive visitor experience and a new purpose-built distillery – utilising as many Kangaroo Island businesses as possible during the work, employing locals and creating another incredible destination on the island,” he said.

“The distillery will be able to increase the production six-fold, add a new whisky product over the coming months, host masterclasses and events, and importantly, create jobs for islanders.

“Diversification and innovation are paying off, not just here at KI Spirits but right across the state’s tourism regions as operators look ahead to deliver new offerings and fresh appeal, helping recover our visitor economy as domestic and international tourism rebuilds in the months and years ahead.”

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said today’s milestones are set to help the island continue to grow its visitor economy.

“It’s an exciting time for tourism on Kangaroo Island, with the rebirth of its iconic Southern Ocean Lodge now underway and a major expansion of Australia’s oldest dedicated gin distillery in KI Spirits,” Mr Harrex said.

“With international tourism restarting from as early as next week, the timing for these major attractions couldn’t be better. Pre COVID, international tourists spent $1.2 billion in our state and Kangaroo Island has always been a major drawcard for this market – these tourism icons we celebrate today will attract visitors from across the nation and the world and will play a key role in recovering our state’s 2019 record-high $8.1 billion visitor economy.”

Baillie Lodges founder James Baillie said he was both relieved and excited to see the SOL 2.0 build commence.

“There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes over these past two years and we are so pleased to have the band back together again, working with Max Pritchard on designs, Matthew Giltrap and Mat Daniel on the build and with the works of so many of the state’s fine designers and artists like Khai Liew and Janine MacIntosh already commissioned for the property,” Mr Baillie said.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who has helped and encouraged us to date, including the close KI community, Southern Ocean Lodge friends and former staff who’ve helped in our working bees and the South Australian government whose continued support for the project has been invaluable.

“We’re looking forward to putting this period behind us, and to wow guests once again with the wild beauty of KI. We hope SOL 2.0 will be a symbol of resilience and optimism for the future of Australian tourism.”

Mighty Craft managing director Mark Haysman said the new world-class production facility and cellar door at Kangaroo Island Spirits heralds a new chapter in the distillery’s 16-year history, attracting tourists and business opportunities to Kangaroo Island.

“The project, designed in collaboration with SA-based architecture firm Studio S2 Architects and set within beautifully landscaped native gardens, includes the installation of an 1,800L steam-driven gin still that will see Kangaroo Island Spirits producing up to 3,000L of gin a week, as well as a 4,500L whisky still, making it the largest whisky distillery in South Australia,” Mr Haysman said.

“With the addition of a range of exciting and immersive tasting experiences and a new ‘Spirits Academy’ on the Island, our vision is to attract additional visitors, be involved in a wider a range of events, create new jobs for locals and increase our capacity for training, innovation and excellence.

“Thanks to the support of the SA Government, Kangaroo Island Distillery is now poised to become one of Australia’s most iconic experiential distilleries, attracting global visitation and contribution to the broader economy.”

/Public Release. View in full here.