27 Jun 2021

More eyes on record-setting South Australia than ever before

Hither and Yon in Willunga, Fleurieu Peninsula
Hither and Yon in Willunga, Fleurieu Peninsula

An unparalleled regional tourism boom and surge in domestic interest in South Australia have driven a record 12.9 million visits to the state’s key tourism portal, southaustralia.com in the last 12 months, as well as the highest regional occupancy rate yet to be recorded.

As the visitor economy works to recover its 2019 $8.1 billion high, the South Australian Tourism Commission recorded over 3.3 million direct leads to South Australian tourism operators and events for the financial year 2020/21 – more than tripling the previous record set, at 1 million leads in 2019/20.

It comes as Adelaide took the title of Australia’s most liveable city, Australia’s second-most popular tourist destination under the Federal Government’s half-price airline tickets scheme, and mainland Australia’s most occupied CBD hotels in March. Regional SA has clocked record-high room nights stayed for six consecutive months, and total visitor expenditure in South Australia in March this year hit 93 per cent of pre-COVID (March 2019) levels, even without international tourists.

Latest data from global hotel analytics firm, STR, also highlights regional tourism continues to boom, with room nights occupied in May 2021 hitting 71% – the highest level of room nights occupied in regional South Australia since 2013 when recording began. Pre-COVID, the corresponding May in 2019 was 54% occupancy, and last year in the middle of the pandemic, it was 18% – showing a dramatic recovery in support of the state’s tourism sector.

SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex said South Australia is punching well above its weight and tourism operators are reaping the rewards.

“In what’s been an incredibly tough time for tourism, we’ve seen interest in South Australia hit an all-time high – not only domestically as we all holiday closer to home, but also globally with our new ranking of the world’s third most liveable city.

“Over 3 million direct leads to South Australian tourism operators were generated last financial year – that’s 3 million phone calls, emails or a ‘book now’ from a consumer eager to travel SA to one of the more than 8,000 tourism businesses and events listed on southaustralia.com,” said Mr Harrex.

“That’s 3 million signs of support for our sector, 3 million commission-free inquiries or bookings with a South Australian tourism operator or event. To have more than tripled last year’s record demonstrates what we can achieve with incredible operators, sensational festivals, and effective campaigns such as the Great State Voucher scheme.”

The SATC invests in marketing to drive consumers to southaustralia.com and to ensure listings are prominent in internet searches. There is no cost to the operator to list on the site, no commission charges, and operators can update their listing as they make changes or improvements to their business. Operators are encouraged to create a listing on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW), the national database for digital tourism information, covering accommodation, events, tours and experiences, food and drink offerings, and more.

Willunga winery Hither & Yon owner Malcolm Leask said having access to ATDW helped list more of the winery events and open the door for more visitors to the region.

“We are at the boutique end of the scale, but the past 12 months for us have been our best ever at our Willunga cellar door in our 10 years in business. There is a real buzz in the High Street here. We are seeing a real mix of visitors, and they are happy to explore and spend more, we are hearing this from our mates in the Vale as well, the region is flying,” Mr Leask said.

“Tourism is really growing for us, with our bike hire, vineyard tastings, bespoke events and we are about to open the door to a beautiful B’n’B in Kangarilla in July. So, we are really investing in our place for the future, thanks to the support of all the passionate South Australians out there.”

Adelaide Hills-based pear cider producer and restaurant, Paracombe Premium Perry, has seen huge business growth thanks to its listing on southaustralia.com.

Paracombe Premium Perry CEO Damian McArdle said: “I registered our business on the ATDW platform when we started, not knowing what it was or how it worked. In hindsight, it was one of the best things we did. It put our new business with no online presence, in front of national and state tourism organisations, and in front of a whole heap of customers that we likely would have never reached without the listing. We now view the ATDW as a ‘must have’ for our business and recommend registering on the platform to everyone around us.”

“I encourage all South Australian tourism operators, from bars, restaurants, wineries and distilleries, to tours, experiences and events, to ensure they have an active listing on the ATDW. It’s a simple way to drive exposure and bookings across our state’s tourism sector as we work to recover our visitor economy and leverage the record-breaking regional tourism demand,” said Mr Harrex.

More information for operators and event organisers: tourism.sa.gov.au/support/atdw.