Home » Kochie to bring ‘interstate perspective’ in new role at SA Tourism Commission

Kochie to bring ‘interstate perspective’ in new role at SA Tourism Commission

David Koch, former co-host of Channel 7’s morning news show Sunrise, has been appointed the next chairperson of the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC), promising to bring an “interstate perspective” to the role after years of contentious campaigns.

The SA government will pay the Sydneysider and current chair of the Port Adelaide Football Club $26,534 each year to chair its independent tourism commission.

Mr Koch, also known as “Kochie”, said he would remain living in New South Wales, but planned to spend more time in South Australia once he started his three-year term on July 2.

“My role isn’t to be here [in SA] running South Australian Tourism, it’s being able to help direct strategic issues and strategic initiatives,” he said.

“I think having that interstate perspective on how the rest of the world sees South Australia is pretty valuable.”

Mr Koch spent more than 20 years co-hosting Sunrise, before quitting the show last May.

He currently runs a media company and provides finance commentary.

A past advertisement by SA Tourism Commission to promote food and wine in the state.(SA Tourism Commission)

On Wednesday, Mr Koch described himself as a “proud South Australian business expat like so many South Australians who have gone interstate to follow their own opportunities, but never, ever lost touch with their home state”.

“[My mum] reminded me that I’ve got hospitality and tourism in my blood because my … however many greats ago [grandfather], Herman Koch, built the Bremen Hotel at Hope Valley in 1847 and then went on to build the Highbury Hotel,” he said.

“I’m not sure whether it’s still as strong in the hospitality area, but it’s a bit of a link.”

Koch to bring ‘profile’ to tourism commission

Mr Koch will replace current SATC chairperson, Andrew Bullock, who has held the role since 2019.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas said Mr Bullock, who runs a hospitality business, ended his term after a “really significant five years of service”.

He said Mr Koch would bring “profile” to the SATC.

A smiling man in a button up shirt, with a sports mascot and people wandering behind him

Peter Malinauskas welcomes David Koch’s appointment to the SA Tourism Commission.(ABC News)

“His experience, particularly in terms of small business, is something that we’re particularly keen to harness here,” he said.

“People are travelling because they want an experience more than anything else, and often it is small to medium businesses in the tourism sector that are best equipped to do that.

“That’s where South Australia’s strength lies.”

Opposition spokesperson Vincent Tarzia said Mr Koch “barracks for the wrong football team”.

“Apart from that, I’m sure he’s eminently qualified and would do an outstanding job,” he said.

Koch defends SATC advertisements

Mr Koch’s appointment follows several contentious SATC campaigns.

Last year, the commission paid TikTok influencers to visit SA and post videos with the captions: “Ready to run amok in the most boring state ever?” and “There’s not much to do in Adelaide, is there?”.

In 2019, the commission released a series of advertisements depicting an elderly man – labelled “Old Mate” – visiting popular tourism spots in SA.

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At the end of one of the 30-second videos, the man breaks down in tears, as a voiceover explains he is upset because he has left it so late in his life to travel to the state.

Mr Koch said the SATC needed to be “innovative” and “bold”.

“You’ve got to try everything,” he said.

“If you … stick with the traditional you’re going to get nowhere, you’re not going to grow.

“Some of them may not work. Others are just going to be sensational.”

Mr Koch also defended the SATC’s decision to pay for an exclusive Sam Smith concert at d’Arenberg winery last year.

British singer Sam Smith performs on stage at d'Arenberg winery.

British singer Sam Smith performs at a McLaren Vale winery during a by-invite-only event in January 2023.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

About 300 people attended the invite-only event, including journalists and 114 radio competition winners.

“I’m not sure what the results were of that particular project, but that was thinking outside the square, thinking outside the box,” Mr Koch said.

“You’ve got to do that, and you’ve got to be bold enough and confident enough to do that.

“I hope SA Tourism never loses that.

“It shows that they’re lively thinkers.”

Head of SA major events committee steps down

Meanwhile, Mr Malinauskas said the SA government was on the hunt for a new chairperson for its Major Events Attraction Committee (MEAC) – an agency tasked with attracting new events to SA.

Previous chairperson and MP Leon Bignell quit the role earlier this year after he was appointed Speaker of the House of Assembly.

“We are going to make some changes there as a consequence of that, but we have not yet announced those or confirmed at least one of them,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“Once we do that, we’ll let you know.”