Community support for South Australia’s bushfire-affected regions and the simple message of the State Government’s #BookThemOut campaign, continues to bolster bookings with operators in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island.
As the media component of the campaign comes to a close and the focus shifts to all of the state’s regions, data from the South Australian Tourism Commission(SATC) shows a huge spike in consumer interest in South Australia and importantly, an increase in the number of bookings made with operators in the hills and on the island – including some who have ‘booked out’, particularly over busy periods such as Easter.
Since the campaign launch on 19 January, the SATC’s southaustralia.com website has received more than 900,000 visits – with 100,000 of those recorded in just the first week. There has been over 19,000 leads to Kangaroo Island operators via the online tourism database which connects consumers directly to operators, and 21,000 leads to operators in the Adelaide Hills.
Premier Steven Marshall said an important, immediate focus of the #BookThemOut campaign was to address the perception issues that were impacting consumer decisions about travel, and now, it is crucial to keep bookings coming for operators right across South Australia.
“Kangaroo Island is Australia’s fourth tourism icon so when images of the island appeared on front pages around the globe with headlines that ‘Australia is on fire’ with nothing left to see, it was key to get the right messaging out to stop cancellations and keep bookings coming,” said Mr Marshall.
“The BookThemOut campaign was not only important for our state’s fire-affected regions but to address perception issues that would have broader implications for the state.
“We’ve seen incredible support from South Australians and people across the country, even the globe, and now, as we head into school holidays, Easter and the winter months, we’re urging people to keep ‘booking out’ Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills, and all of our state’s regions.”
Operators in Kangaroo Island have reported an increase in consumer interest and bookings, with Kangaroo Island Short Stays recently announcing it is booked out for Easter 2020.
Kangaroo Island Seafront Group’s Nicola Purvis said they had an “overwhelming response” to the BookThemOut campaign, after being hit hard with cancellations following the fires in early January.
“Once the campaign started, we saw a 50 per cent increase in bookings for the month of February. At some stages, reception staff couldn’t keep up with the phone calls and emails coming in – what a great problem to have,” said Ms Purvis.
Kokumi Airbnb’s Leanne Woods said their Kangaroo Island accommodation suffered a substantial loss of bookings at the time of the fires.
“Since the #BookThemOut campaign started, interest and bookings have come flooding in. We had six bookings in just 24 hours last weekend. We are so grateful for the support and assistance #BookThemOut has given our business and our whole community,” said Ms Woods.
Waves and Wildlife Cottages owner Paul Stanton, who lost his family home and is now living in one of his Cottages’ cabins, believes the BookThemOut campaign is working.
“We're getting stacks of enquiries now so I think the campaign is definitely working,” said Mr Stanton.
Adelaide Hills operators have also benefited from increased visitors as locals and interstaters are making trips to the region. Tom Foristal from Melbas Chocolates in Woodside said visitation over January and February has been “well up on past years”, with an increase from intra and interstate.
“It's been a significant relief to see visitors flock back to the region on the back of the #BookThemOut campaign. We have seen January and February visitor numbers through the week increased by 32% and 13% respectively, and weekend numbers up a whopping 113% and 58% again respectively," said Mr Foristal.
Clare Anderson from Anderson Hill in Lenswood said her business has seen “a massive increase in weekday visitor numbers, over 70% are because of the campaign”.
To help drive the #BookThemOut message, campaign signage has featured prominently at key locations and State Government sponsored events around South Australia, including at Adelaide Airport, Santos Tour Down Under, the ISPS Handa Women’s Open Golf, and Superloop Adelaide 500.
Local sporting teams have helped get the #BookThemOut message out, with the Adelaide and Port Adelaide teams wearing the logo across their playing shirts in the Bushfire T20 Showdown held on 2 February, as well as Adelaide United sporting the campaign logo on the team’s away shirts for the rest of the season.
Special events held in fire-affected regions such as the Kangaroo Island Fringe, as well as additional support for scheduled events like the recent Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival and the Adelaide Hills Crush Festival, have helped lift local spirits and give visitors the extra nudge they needed to book a trip. Organisers of the KI Racing Carnival reported increases all-round, with a record attendance of 3,800, a 76 per cent spike in bar sales, a 40 per cent spike in private marquees, and a sold-out long lunch (up 39 per cent).
The campaign was also pushed out globally, with the SATC activating events in key international markets, including the G’day USA gala and a media event at celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s restaurant in Los Angeles in US, and hosting a British nature and wildlife TV personality Ray Mears on Kangaroo Island to do live crosses with UK TV and radio news.
“The sheer generosity shown by the community has been truly fantastic – I’m urging everyone to keep it coming, keep visiting the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island and make all of your holidays, short stays and experiences in South Australia,” said Premier Steven Marshall.
“Tourism plays such a vital role in our state’s regions and the best way people can show their support and help South Australia stay strong, is to book and spend local.”
Media advertising of the #BookThemOut campaign winds up at the end of February (continuing on social and digital media), with a new campaign set to be launched in the lead-up to winter, expanding the “call to action” more broadly across all SA regions.