28 Jun 2023

12 months, 23 major events and a $9.4 billion tourism record high

Light Creatures, Illuminate Adelaide
Light Creatures, Illuminate Adelaide

Strong growth in interstate and international spend, plus a bumper events calendar to kick off the year, has seen South Australia’s tourism sector hit a new record-high 12-month tourism spend.
New data released this week by Tourism Research Australia shows visitor expenditure in South Australia in the 12 months to March 2023 hit $9.4 billion – well surpassing the December 2022 record of $8.3 billion.
In the year to March 2023, the visitor economy jumped by $3.3 billion – up 54 per cent, and the largest ever tourism spend in a calendar year.
An action-packed events calendar in the city saw the Adelaide CBD reach a record-high $4.9 billion, with the past six months alone generating an increase in expenditure of $1.3 billion.
This was achieved thanks to an exceptionally strong start to the event year, kicking off with the Santos Tour Down Under, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival, Ed Sheeran concert, and WOMADelaide boosting visitation and driving record hotel occupancy in the city. Major events at the tail end of 2022, such as the VAILO Adelaide 500, ICC T20 Men’s World Cup and Harvest Rock, also had a significant impact on visitor spend.
In the 12 months to March 2023, South Australia celebrated more than 23 major events, over one year – helping to drive both visitor and local spend.
Both intrastate and interstate spend has exceeded records broken in 2022, driven by South Australians continuing to explore their own backyard and strong visitation from Victoria.
Since the opening of international borders in February 2022, South Australia’s international market has grown to $814 million, on its way to recovering its record high $1.2 billion at December 2019.
New data shows:

  • Total expenditure in South Australia in the 12 months to March 2023 reached a record high $9.4 billion - up 12 per cent on the previous record-breaking $8.3 billion at year-end December 2022 and ahead of the national growth of 11 per cent.
  • In the year to March 2023, the annual value of the visitor economy in South Australia has grown from $6.1 billion to $9.4 billion, an increase of $3.3 billion. The previous year to year comparison (March 2021-March 2022) saw an increase of $1.7 billion – from $4.4 billion to $6.1 billion.
  • Interstate tourism spend reached a record high of $3.5 billion spent at year end March 2023, up on the previous December 2022 record of $3.2 billion.
  • Intrastate tourism spend reached a record high $3.0 billion, up 18 per cent on pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
  • International tourism has grown to $814 million, up from $519 million in December 2022, and well on its way to recovering the record-high $1.2 billion in December 2019.
  • A total of 14.8 million day-trip visits were made in the year to March 2023, with a record expenditure of $2.0 billion, up 22 per cent on December 2019.
  • Regional tourism reached a record $4.47 billion, up 25 per cent on the pre-COVID December 2019.
  • Adelaide has reached a record high of $4.9 billion, up 8 per cent on pre-COVID levels. In the past six months, Adelaide has seen expenditure rise by $1.3 billion.

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said South Australia has had a massive start to the year.

"And now we can see the proof, as we celebrate a record-breaking $9.4 billion visitor spend," Minister Bettison said. 
"The state has enjoyed a whopping $3.3 billion increase in the year to March 2023 as locals continue to discover their own backyard, interstaters travel here from over the border, and international travel picks up.
"A non-stop events calendar of exclusive events has motivated visitors to commit to a trip to South Australia, and this is only set to continue with Illuminate Adelaide, Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution, FIFA Women’s World Cup, Harvest Rock, VAILO Adelaide 500 and more still to come this year."
"This incredible achievement signifies we are now going beyond recovery and setting our sights on achieving our goal of growing South Australia’s visitor economy to $12.8 billion by 2030." 
Australian Hotel Association SA incoming CEO, Anna Moeller said they have heard that the recovery has been ticking along well, and it is great to now have the data to show it. 
"We’re now seeing the confidence to travel return, more events that ever before and record numbers for the conference sector. That all adds up to good news for hotels and restaurants, and more broadly for tourism in SA," Ms Moeller said. 
"The statistics to the end of March represent what was a bumper 12 months for SA as we finally emerged from COVID; the challenge is now to keep it going for the next 12 months."