11 Mar 2022

Most liveable city now one of most visited cities

South Australia is punching above its weight in tourism recovery as Adelaide hotel bookings reach post-pandemic record highs and domestic visitor spending across the state tops pre-COVID levels.

As interstate visitors flock to the city’s world-renowned festivals and Great State Vouchers boost bookings for businesses – it is estimated the March long weekend will pump almost $100 million into South Australia’s visitor economy.

It comes as new data shows that spending by domestic tourists in South Australia in December was at 98 per cent of that spent by all tourists to SA (including internationals) pre-COVID, and Adelaide hotel occupancy ranked in the top three of all major cities across Australia and New Zealand.

With the booking period for round seven of the Great State Voucher program having closed this week, it has generated nearly 60,000 bookings for accommodation providers across the state – the highest number of bookings created in any one round of the scheme to date.

New statistics released today from the South Australian Tourism Commission show:

  • This March long weekend will generate an estimated $97.1 million in total visitor expenditure in South Australia – thanks to post-pandemic record occupancy levels boosted by Great State Vouchers and festivals like Fringe, Adelaide Festival and WOMADelaide

Visitor expenditure in SA*

  • Domestic visitor expenditure in South Australia in December 2021 was higher than pre-pandemic spending in December 2019. At $612 million, it was up 27 per cent on December 2020 and up 11 per cent on December 2019
  • Total visitor expenditure in SA in December 2021, including the loss of all international expenditure, was 98 per cent of pre-COVID levels – the second strongest month since the pandemic began
  • On the back of SA’s borders reopening to domestic tourism on 23 November, 174,000 interstate overnight visitors spent $197 million in December 2021, up 84 per cent on December 2020 and up 2 per cent on December 2019

Adelaide hotels**

  • Forward bookings for Adelaide hotels for the next three months are at a post-pandemic record high
  • With Great State Accommodation Vouchers in circulation, average Adelaide hotel occupancy for the week ending 5 March 2022 was 69 per cent – the best result since May 2021
  • The weekend of 4 & 5 March saw average occupancy for CBD hotels of 85 per cent, creating revenue of $3.5 million. This made it the fourth highest occupancy and second highest revenue for a weekend since the pandemic began
  • Latest city comparison data shows that in December 2021, Adelaide hotel occupancy was in the top three of all major cities across Australia and New Zealand, after Hobart and Perth.

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said the results for South Australia’s tourism industry have surpassed forecasts and show Adelaide is punching well above its weight on the national stage.

“For South Australia’s total visitor expenditure in December to be almost on par with 2019 levels – when we had international tourists – is quite remarkable,” he said.

“December was the second-best month for tourist spending since the start of the pandemic, and it shows that interstaters had pent up demand to travel to SA, to reunite with family and friends, and attend our state’s world-class events like the Ashes,” he said.

“Now with the highest number of Great State Voucher bookings created in any one round and our festival season in full swing, we’re seeing hotels filling up, domestic flight numbers increasing and interstaters coming to Adelaide – all at higher rates than in early December before the Omicron outbreak – and it means a nearly $100 million boost for tourism this long weekend.”

What industry is saying:

Crowne Plaza Adelaide general manager Shaun Parsons: “In early January, the impact of Omicron had resulted in significantly reduced occupancy at the hotel, and we were concerned that we were heading in a similar direction as 2021 with more cancellations and postponement of bookings to come. In a rapid and unexpected shift, we are thrilled to now be experiencing increased bookings and occupancies of over 80% on some nights. You can feel the buzz of Adelaide’s CBD coming back to life with visitors returning to enjoy the Fringe and Adelaide Festival, and more crowds expected this long weekend with at WOMAD.

“The Great State Vouchers, which supported us significantly last year, have been a welcome relief contributing enormously to our forward bookings over the next few months. With travellers’ confidence returning, we’re also experiencing an uptick in interstate business travel returning to Adelaide.”

Accor Pacific CEO, Sarah Derry said there is strong interest in the group’s Adelaide hotels, which include Sofitel Adelaide, ibis Adelaide, Mantra on Hindmarsh Square, and more.

“Adelaide is performing very well. Confidence is increasing in the market, and we are beginning to see the return of business travel and conference bookings,” she said.

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie: “We know more than 40 per cent of our ticket sales are from interstate visitors, which is great for our festival city with thousands of people coming into South Australia, enjoying our program of events over the long weekend, but also spending time exploring and spending in hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes.”

*Tourism Research Australia – National Visitor Survey, monthly data for December 2021 (released 12:01am Friday 11 March 2022)

**STR – Adelaide accommodation data, week ending 5 March 2022.