14 Apr 2023

A record-breaking footy weekend as Gather Round flies high

More than 115,000 passengers will pass through Adelaide Airport this Thursday to Sunday thanks to the nation’s first AFL Gather Round and the start of the school holidays.

It makes it the busiest four days for Adelaide Airport since pre pandemic.

Today is the biggest of the four days for the Airport, with an expected 34,000 passengers.

The influx of footy fans has seen an extra 35 flights into Adelaide than the previous week, with 30 of these added by Virgin Australia, the official airline of the AFL from cities across the country including Perth (14 additional flights), Melbourne (9), Brisbane (4) and Sydney (3).

The flights boost comes as Adelaide hotels scored a record ahead of the inaugural event, with latest forward booking data showing there are more hotel rooms booked over the Friday and Saturday (91% and 92% respectively) of Gather Round than any other weekend before.

With forward bookings indicating an average of 9,640 room nights occupied over the Friday and Saturday, it has surpassed the previous record-holder of the March 2023 long weekend.

It is also tipped to be the best weekend for hotel revenue on record, as an influx of more than 50,000 interstate visitors help drive demand.

More than 200,000 tickets have now been sold across the nine matches held at three premier venues, the iconic Adelaide Oval and Norwood Oval in the CBD, and Recreation Park in the Adelaide Hills.

All nine Gather Round matches are now sold out.

Day one of the ‘Festival of Footy’ got underway yesterday, with fans and visitors already enjoying the free four-day Pepsi Max Footy Festival at Elder Park and Pinky Flat.

The entertainment and food and beverage offerings continue at both Norwood Oval tonight and Sunday, and in the Adelaide Hills tomorrow.

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said kicking off the country’s first ever Gather Round last night in South Australia is already kicking goals.

"This is a footy weekend like no other we have experienced in our nation’s history – so it is only fitting that it’s driven hotel bookings like never before and our city’s airport is experiencing its busiest four days since before COVID," Minister Bettison said.

"With more than 200,000 tickets sold across the nine matches – all sold out - there’s been huge demand locally and interstate, and our tourism and hospitality industries are reaping the rewards."

General Manager Hilton Adelaide, Rupert Hallam said the atmosphere in the hotel is almost palpable as the Gather Round really comes to life.

"We’re almost at capacity, and there’s a very strong interstate contingent coming to support their teams," Mr Hallam said.

"Coupled with LIV Golf Adelaide next week, it certainly is an extremely busy time for the hotels across the city.

"We are looking forward to showcasing Adelaide to our guests over the coming weeks as these two major events gather momentum."

General Manager Ibis / Pullman, Llewellyn Wyeth said their properties are experiencing very high demand, with the majority of visitors starting to arrive today and this volume flows right through until Monday.

"Whilst there are some limited rooms left available, we expect these to go very quickly over coming days with hotels filling fast," Mr Wyeth said.

"There is a great sense of pride within Adelaide and within our industry. To be a part of the inaugural Gather Round, with teams coming in from interstate, staying at multiple hotels around the city and around 50,000 people from interstate. This will be a great boost not just for the hotels, but for the employees who will be busy selling the amazing things to do whilst not at the game.

"It’s a win for all businesses from hotels to retail, restaurants, wineries and bars, to taxi drivers and the corner store.

"This is a huge tourism boost for the Easter period that all South Australians will benefit from and one we should all be proud of being a small part of… Even if we cannot take to the field."