19 Dec 2023


There is plenty to celebrate as we look back on 2023 – remarkable recovery of our international market, new events showcasing SA on the world stage, the launch of a new domestic marketing campaign, and much more.

This has all culminated in our $9.9 billion record-high visitor economy, which takes us beyond recovery and sets our sights firmly on our ambitious goal of growing tourism in South Australia to $12.8 billion by 2030.

A key part of this will be continuing to drive international visitation, which is now worth $1 billion to our state. This year we’ve had the privilege of taking our roadshows to key global markets, putting operators across the state in front of leading industry representatives and media and helping sell our state to the world.

These international – as well as interstate – travellers have enjoyed easier access to SA this year, with our steadfast commitment to reinstating flights that link our state with key tourism markets. There are now nine international airlines currently flying into Adelaide and we continue our work to see this grow even more in 2024.

It’s not just the sky getting busier, as we also celebrated a record-breaking cruise season. Our state said ahoy to 103 ship visits in the 2022-23 cruise season, injecting an all-time high $215 million into SA’s economy. The benefits are only set to grow, as we look to welcome 127 visits this season.

We’ve seen strong growth in visitor spend across the regions, with 10 of our 11 regions already surpassing their 2025 tourism targets. In fact, for 22 consecutive months our regions have performed better than the same month in 2019. While we understand some regions are experiencing a slower recovery than others, it is still positive to see a definite uptick in overall expenditure.

In September we launched our new domestic marketing campaign, Travel. Our Way. We have had great feedback from industry on the energetic campaign, which is already inspiring our key domestic markets to both come to SA and to experience a uniquely South Australian way of travelling.

We also took centre stage in October, when we welcomed buyers and sellers from across the country for the Australian Tourism Export Council’s Meeting Place 2023. Around 130 buyers came to Adelaide, experiencing firsthand the incredible tourism offerings in South Australia - from our unique local produce to our globally renowned wine regions, immersive wildlife experiences and more.

This year we saw major events make a huge impact, helping put SA on the map both nationally and globally. Highlights include Australia’s first AFL Gather Round and LIV Golf Adelaide, hosting five of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 matches, and the second year of Harvest Rock.

We also saw the Santos Tour Down Under back in its full force, which is set to go bigger and better when it returns in 2024 just next month. Making it an extra special historic moment, the 2023 event also saw the women’s race elevated to a Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Women’s WorldTour event for the first time - the top level of road cycling competition.

It has been truly inspiring to see South Australians come together to support our Murray River regions, which were devastated by a once-in-a-century flooding event this time last year. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this important recovery piece, and to our Regional Tourism Managers in both regions. Good luck also to Pamela and Bill for the next steps in their journey - it’s been quite the year so thank you for all of your efforts in recovering tourism in the regions.

I would like to thank you for your support in my first year as Chief Executive Officer. It’s been an absolute pleasure to get to know our industry from across all regions and to discover more of the incredible and diverse experiences South Australia has to offer, and to advocate for all of this to grow the value and recognition of tourism in our state.

In our future, I look forward to honing in on who we are as a tourism destination and as a state through a new long term destination brand, while continuing to grow our world-class offerings, delivering impactful events, and seeing record numbers of visitors ‘Travel Our Way.’

Here’s cheers to safe and enjoyable festive summer season, and wishing you all a successful 2024.

Emma Terry

Chief Executive Officer
South Australian Tourism Commission

Read Industry Update - 19 December 2023