International tennis, record occupancy data, NSW to open & more...
What a big few days to finish off January – today we host some of the world’s best tennis players at Memorial Drive, from midnight tomorrow we welcome back visitors from New South Wales and on Sunday the booking period for the second round of our Great State Vouchers comes to a close.
When we reopen our borders to Greater Sydney from midnight Saturday, it will signal the first time since March 24 that South Australians will have free travel with every state and territory. That is good news on both fronts – we can return to unrestricted interstate travel (great for business, and visiting family and friends) but also, we can start to rebuild our valuable domestic market partnerships.
The South Australian Tourism Commission has been working closely with operators, ensuring we continue to provide the best advice and support to drive visitation, boost employment in our sector and identify new opportunities.
In addition to our recent $1 million Regional Event Fund announcement, and the $20 million Tourism Industry Development Fund, I’m pleased to report our Great State Voucher program continues to provide an immediate economic impact to operators across the state.
We know round one last year injected around $10 million into the visitor economy. With more vouchers, higher redemption and a longer booking period, we’re expecting to see that figure go higher. I’d urge anyone with a voucher to book by 11.59pm Sunday for travel until 31 March – every booking helps operators.
Importantly, we are also seeing bookings from interstate visitors – we know they stay longer and spend more when they travel here. Now that all of NSW – our second biggest interstate market – can travel to SA again, we’re hoping it is the start of good things to come.
You may have read the most recent occupancy data, which was released last week. It was overwhelmingly positive, showing the initiatives we are driving are making a difference.
In case you missed it, both city and regional accommodation occupancy recorded sharp spikes for December 2020, with both matching – or beating – bookings for the same period in 2019, pre COVID and pre Black Summer bushfires.
Figures provided by STR for December 2020 show occupancy in regional South Australia reached 60 per cent – the highest December on record, and an increase on December 2019 (55 per cent).
Room nights in regions were also the highest on record for December, reaching 114,000, up 8 per cent on the previous year (106,000).
That is consistent with what we are hearing, but I also understand some sectors are still doing it tough. We are certainly using that feedback as we prepare for a third round of the Great State Vouchers, which the Premier has already mentioned will include tours and experiences. I look forward to sharing more information with you as soon as we can.
Today is also a welcome return to international events, as Memorial Drive hosts the Day at the Drive. The sold-out event features eight of the world’s best players, with an impressive 67 Grand Slam singles titles between them. It is a great opportunity to showcase South Australia to a national and international audience, but we’ve also seen great social media coverage from players geo-tagging Adelaide, South Australia to their fans across the world – and even, Serena Williams getting to Adelaide Zoo with her daughter, after completing quarantine in North Adelaide.
I joined the Premier at the press conference this morning to help welcome the players to South Australia. I look forward to seeing the great coverage of our unique, world-class CBD sporting venue in Channel 9's national broadcast of the event, and am pleased that it will also be aired to a global audience.