12 Jun 2021

Big spend in tourism is filling the gap and creating jobs

On the back of Adelaide being voted the most liveable city in Australia, and the third in the world – new data shows tourism spending in South Australia in March hit almost the same levels as pre-pandemic. 

The data shows that South Australian tourism has almost made up the gap left by international tourists while providing a multi-million boost to the state’s economy and creating jobs.  

Expenditure in South Australia in March this year reached 93 per cent of the total expenditure of March 2019 – the strongest result since travel restrictions began and the sector was significantly impacted by COVID. 

The March 2021 National Visitor Survey, released today by Tourism Research Australia, further highlights the trend of South Australians spending more time exploring their own backyard. 

Premier Steven Marshall said both intrastate and interstate travel was bouncing back strongly, with more than $640 million injected into the state’s visitor economy during March. 

This follows occupancy rates in regional South Australia revealing the start of 2021 was the best quarter ever recorded, and April saw the highest number of room nights occupied and the highest revenue of any April on record, at 122,500 room nights occupied and $19.4 million in takings.  

“We know people are exploring more of South Australia than ever before,” Premier Marshall said. 

“We’ve just seen record room nights stayed in regional SA for the fifth month in a row, and for the month of March, hotels in the CBD saw the highest average occupancy for a month since the pandemic began and the highest occupancy of any mainland Australian capital city.  

“This latest data is testament to what we can do as a state, to boost our economy, sustain and create jobs in our tourism sector, and get people enjoying what our great state has to offer in the meantime,” Premier Marshall said. 

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said the strong recovery of tourism expenditure is a remarkable demonstration of the difference South Australians can make by holidaying at home. 

“There’s no doubt we’ve seen a massive effort by South Australians who have voted with their feet – and dollars – and embraced an SA getaway,” Mr Harrex said. 

“In March, we saw target-busting ticket sales for our festivals, for Fringe, Adelaide Festival, and WOMADelaide, we saw tens of thousands room night bookings through the Great State Voucher program, and we partnered with airlines to entice interstaters to SA. 

“This latest data from Tourism Research Australia shows we can bounce back strongly, that people are eager to travel and explore and that South Australia keeps on delivering with experiences and iconic destinations.” 

Latest statistics show: 

  • The overwhelming majority of tourism activity was from the intrastate market: in March 2021, South Australia saw 441,000 intrastate overnight visitors, who stayed 1.3 million nights and spent $272 million.  
  • Intrastate visits grew 55 per cent, nights 69 per cent and expenditure 119 per cent on March 2020 (partly impacted by COVID).  
  • The interstate market also showed positive signs of a bounce back in March 2021, with 636,000 domestic overnight trips recorded to and within the state, with spend of $495 million.
  • From February 2021 to March 2021, visitation and expenditure grew 60 per cent and 90 per cent respectively. The growth came with the reopening of borders between South Australia, Western Australia and Greater Melbourne, the March activity of the festival season and Great State Voucher round two.
  • There were 195,000 interstate overnight trips to South Australia in March 2021, they stayed 915,000 nights and spent $222 million for the month.
  • There were 1.2 million-day trips to and within South Australia in March 2021 with spend of $146 million.
  • In March 2021, South Australia saw total visitor expenditure of $641 million – 93 per cent of total visitor expenditure in March 2019 at $686 million, which included international.  

Premier Marshall said many areas in regional South Australia continued to do well. 

“While 56 per cent of South Australian trips included nights spent outside the Adelaide tourism region in March 2019, this increased to 69 per cent in March 2021. 

The share of spend in regional areas also increased from 38 per cent in March 2019 to 57 per cent in March 2021 – that is people getting out and about, discovering more of South Australia – and liking what they see,” Premier Marshall said. 

“Taking into account the loss of all international expenditure, the net position of the entire visitor economy for March 2021 is 93 per cent of 2019 levels before the pandemic. This is an outstanding outcome for tourism operators in SA and a very positive step forward in our overall economic recovery.”