04 Aug 2021

Post lockdown lift for SA getaways

Image supplied by CABN
Image supplied by CABN

South Australians are not letting the lull of a lockdown get in the way of a local getaway, as regional operators report a spike in intrastate bookings, some booking as far ahead as the New Year.

It follows new data available to the South Australian Tourism Commission which shows June 2021 saw regional SA hit an another monthly all-time high – the best June result on record – making it the seventh consecutive month to break regional tourism records.

Latest statistics from global data analytics firm, STR, reveal:

  • Regional SA for the month of June 2021 saw an average occupancy rate of 59 per cent, with 110,000 room nights occupied and takings of $16 million
  • This was the best June result on record for regional SA, above the previous high in June 2016 with occupancy of 56%, room nights occupied of 97,000 and takings of $12 million
  • June marks the seventh consecutive month where regional SA has enjoyed a record individual monthly result for room nights occupied and takings
  • In Adelaide’s CBD, average occupancy for the week ending Saturday 17 July (three days prior to the lockdown) was 59 per cent – despite impacts of the Sydney lockdown, the start of the Melbourne lockdown, border restrictions to NSW, Victoria and parts of Queensland, and the traditional seasonal weakness of July.

Premier, Steven Marshall said despite last week’s lockdown and the loss of interstate bookings due to the Sydney and Melbourne outbreaks – there remains an incredibly strong intrastate market.

“We’ve just seen the best start to a winter that regional South Australia has ever seen. For seven months’ straight, there’s been a record number of people exploring the state’s regions,” Premier Marshall said

“We’re hearing from operators in the Adelaide Hills, in the Fleurieu and Eyre Peninsulas, that local bookings keep coming and South Australians are locking in trips to see SA for Christmas and the New Year – helping to create and sustain hundreds of jobs across the state.

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said that while some regional operators are busy, there are some within the industry, such as tour operators that rely heavily on interstate tourists, have been hit harder than others.

“We’ve seen that people come out of the blocks very fast after a lockdown, so as we emerge from last week, I encourage South Australians to get out and explore this great state of ours – from the regions to the city – and let the experts show you the best way to do that by booking a tour. It means a lot to an industry which has had it incredibly tough,” Mr Harrex said.

Shane Laidlaw of Fleurieu Peninsula based luxury accommodation CABN said: “We experienced an influx of last-minute cancellations when the border closed to New South Wales and Victoria, but we’re incredibly grateful and fortunate that the strong community we’ve built around CABN meant these spots were filled instantaneously with South Australian travellers.”

“CABN is focused on connecting people with nature and one another, and now more than ever we’ve found our guests are looking for opportunities to disconnect from the intensity of their everyday lives and spend time outdoors in our off-grid accommodation whilst exploring SA’s magical regions without the usual distractions that technology brings. We also have really close relationships with local regional businesses – which means when someone stays at CABN, they’re also out enjoying the nearby wineries and restaurants such as Gemtree and supporting surrounding businesses in the area.”

Port Lincoln Hotel’s Katherine Arthur said the Eyre Peninsula based hotel has seen encouraging signs this year, with more people looking to explore SA.

“In the past 12 months, we’ve seen an increase in the average length of stay with many South Australians staying for up to a week or more to explore the region. Occupancy has been consistently strong with June figures the best we have ever seen, and July was tracking to finish at around 90% until the lockdown hit – when we got a flood of cancellations,” Ms Arthur said.

“From Monday when the reports showed positive signs of the lockdown ending, we saw booking enquiries and by Tuesday afternoon, our corporate and leisure markets started to rebook which saw August’s occupancy figures bounce back relatively quickly. We also saw that during lockdown, South Australians were still planning their holidays, with a surge in bookings over Christmas and New Years from travellers keen to come to the Eyre Peninsula over summer. Last summer the whole region was fully-booked and this year is looking to be the same, so people wanting to visit Port Lincoln should really start planning now or risk missing out.”

Mount Lofty Estate general manager Jesse Kornoff said he was grateful for the “very strong and loyal local market” the Adelaide Hills’ based luxury accommodation and fine dining venue has. Both the iconic Mount Lofty House and the new luxury lodge Sequoia were hit hard by interstate cancellations – however South Australians have stepped up to fill the gaps.

“We’ve had an incredible response over the last week with people looking ahead and a big increase in local bookings for next month, with South Australians looking to replace interstate holidays and continue to celebrate special occasions.”

Tourism data analysed by the SATC after SA’s November circuit breaker shows that conditions in the CBD hotel market returned to pre-lockdown levels in three weeks, before going on to the bumper Christmas and New Year period – where regional SA started recording record-high occupancy rates from December and Adelaide hotels later reached the highest occupancy of mainland Australian city.

“That kind of data will hopefully give operators the confidence to look onwards and upwards, knowing that South Australians are ready to go to the regions, explore the city and spend their hard-earned locally,” Mr Harrex said.

“What we’ve heard this week is that phones have been ringing again, forward bookings are coming in and people are planning ahead to get away in SA.”