13 Mar 2023

Mad March a multi-million-dollar moneymaker and Sheeran has hotels cheerin’

Mad March in Adelaide is driving a multi-million-dollar tourism boost, as visitors flock to festivals and forward bookings show hotel occupancy has hit a “celestial” record high.

New South Australian Tourism Commission statistics show that just over the three days of the March long weekend, an estimated $128 million has been spent in the state’s visitor economy.
Unprecedented ticket sales and out-of-state demand for WOMADelaide, the Adelaide Fringe still aiming to hit one million tickets sold for the first time, and the Adelaide Festival hitting 91 per cent of its biggest box office target upon opening, are helping drive the tourism surge. 
An added moneymaker this Mad March, the Ed Sheeran concert had hotels cheerin’ – with forward bookings indicating Adelaide accommodation will hit a new all-time high occupancy rate of 98 per cent of rooms sold last Tuesday.
Latest data highlights:

  • An estimated $128 million has been spent by intrastate, interstate and international visitors in South Australia over the three days of the 2023 March long weekend
  • WOMADelaide sold-out of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and multi-day tickets in advance, for the first time in its 31-year history
  • WOMADelaide reported its highest ever percentage of interstate and international visitors traveling for the festival – across all ticketing categories, 50% of advance sales were sold to out-of-state visitors and 78% of interstate ticket buyers had not purchased a ticket in three years
  • Latest forward bookings show 94% of Adelaide accommodation was booked out for the Saturday of WOMADelaide
  • Forward bookings show Adelaide accommodation was at an average of 90% occupancy over the Mad March long weekend (Friday 90%, Saturday 94%, Sunday 86%)
  • Forward bookings show on Tuesday 7 March, Adelaide accommodation reached an all-time high occupancy rate of 98% – an occupancy rate which is expected to surpass 10,000 room nights occupied for the first time ever
  • The 98% forward booking occupancy record was driven by Mad March events including the Fringe and Festival, as well as the Ed Sheeran concert at Adelaide Oval.

Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said the state "continues to smash records".
"In fact, hotel bookings hit a “celestial” record-high driven by Ed Sheeran at Adelaide Oval, Fringe and Festival – proving that we’re all “…in love with the shape of…”  our state’s festival season," she said.
"The unprecedented demand for WOMADelaide and its return to full international programming, is clearly translating to visitors, hotel bookings and dollars.
"It all means more people filling hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars this Mad March and an estimated $128 million tourism boost this long weekend."
WOMADelaide Director, Ian Scobie said: "With our first full international program since the 2020 festival, WOMADelaide has seen unprecedented ticket sales, and our highest ever percentage of both interstate and international visitors.
"Across all ticketing categories we have seen 50 per cent of advance sales being sold to visitors to South Australia, with 78 per cent of interstate ticket buyers having not purchased a ticket in three years, and we have welcomed our largest ever contingent of first-time WOMADelaide festivalgoers over the festival weekend."