RIVER tourism operators are claiming a booming summer season, despite statistics showing a downturn.

Statistics released by the South Australia Tourism Commission (SATC) revealed the number of visitor nights spent in the Murraylands decreased by 239,000 nights between July 2012 and June 2014.

Shadow Minister for Tourism David Ridgway said the fall in the number of night visitors was disappointing.

“Decreasing visitor nights is affecting small tourism business operators and jobs growth throughout regional South Australia,” he said.

“South Australia prides itself on its regions so it is very disappointing to see seven of our 12 tourism regions record a decrease in visitor nights.

“The loss of more than one million visitor nights in the past two years is a substantial loss of investment in our regional economies.”

Across the State, there were one million less nights spent in regional areas in the past two years according to SATC’s statistics.

Minister Ridgway criticised the State Government for neglecting regional South Australia and said regional areas would benefit from more targeted investment.

But Mannum caravan park manager Bronnie Allen said bookings had not quietened down at all.

“I disagree, I think we’ve had more people to the region and more and more new people,” she said.

“We’ve been crazy busy … our occupancy is up somewhere in the vicinity of 18 per cent.

“We’re one of those places that’s busy and popular pretty much all year round.”

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