07 Jun 2021

South Australia’s visitor economy gains a $44 million boost

Spirit Australia Cruises - Big Duck Boat Tour
Spirit Australia Cruises - Big Duck Boat Tour

South Australian jobs have been created and retained thanks to the third round of Great State Vouchers, which has injected $12 million into South Australia’s visitor economy.

The $12 million brings the total economic impact of the voucher scheme to date to more than $44 million, providing a lifeline to tour, experience and accommodation businesses this winter.

It comes as new tourism data shows occupancy in regional SA continues to hit new highs – with the highest number of room nights occupied and the highest revenue of any April on record.

Latest data from global hotel analytics firm, STR, shows in April 2021 regional SA saw the highest number of room nights occupied and the highest revenue of any April on record, at 122,500 room nights occupied and $19.4 million in takings.

This record-breaking data comes as bookings roll in for the fourth round of Great State Vouchers, which aim to stimulate the sector during the traditionally quieter winter period.

Over 23,000 Great State Experiences Vouchers resulted in nearly 45,500 people making bookings with South Australian tour and experience operators – an immediate cash-relief to businesses’ bottom line.

Premier Steven Marshall said the voucher scheme has and continues to stimulate South Australia’s economy and is supporting hundreds of jobs across our state.

“Rounds one to three of the Great State Vouchers have generated more than $44 million for South Australia’s visitor economy, leading to record-breaking hotel occupancy levels in both our regions and cities,” Premier Marshall said.

“With tens of millions in spending flow-on, this stimulus scheme has an impressive return on investment. It gets tourists moving about our state, spending in the CBD and in regional communities, in hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes, and it sustains and creates South Australian jobs.”

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said the agency continues to hear from industry about the benefits of the voucher scheme.

“With each iteration of the program, we’re overwhelmed by the feedback from tourism operators about how the scheme has benefited their business, created more hours for their staff, and got a heap of new local advocates spruiking their experience with family and friends,” Mr Harrex said.

“We’re continually looking at the data and talking with operators to determine where the stimulus will be most effective, and it’s clear that the tourism created through the third and fourth round of vouchers will be hugely valuable to operators this winter.”

What the sector is saying:

Spirit Australia Cruises, which operates The Big Duck Boat Tours and Spirit of the Coorong in the Fleurieu Peninsula, was able to put on dozens of extra boat tours thanks to the experiences vouchers, creating tens of thousands of dollars in revenue and at least 3,000 passenger bookings.

Spirit Australia Cruises’ Marketing Manager Joel Hirsch said the vouchers have been “a phenomenal driver to encourage people to get out” and have “encouraged bookings in what would have been a quiet season for us, so we are thrilled with the results, seeing full tours and very strong forward bookings”.

Echo Farm, a family-owned tourism business in Mount Gambier in the Limestone Coast, received 56 group bookings for tours at a time they expected to “struggle”.

“With so many extra bookings for tours from families during winter, the voucher scheme has made a huge difference to our young business,” said owner/operator Linda Hay.

“Many of our visitors have travelled to Mount Gambier from Adelaide and other regions because of the voucher, and they’re asking us what else they can do in the region – it’s not only assisting our business after being closed for five months last year, it’s helping our local economy including accommodation and hospitality providers in the area.”

Kimbolton Wines in the Langhorne Creek wine region saw a “steady flow of customers” through its cellar door thanks to the vouchers, with many weekends having a 100% increase in voucher experiences. 

Kimbolton Wine’s Nicole Clark said she was “blown away” by the voucher scheme.

“The experiences vouchers far exceeded any expectations we had – with so many of the voucher holders having never been to Langhorne Creek before, it’s getting new visitors to the region that might not have come otherwise. It’s also been a real win for other wineries too, as whilst they might not have participated, our experience takes a bit over an hour and most people are also having lunch in the region and visiting other cellar doors while here,” she said.

The booking period for round four of the Great State Voucher scheme opened on 2 June and will close 30 June, for travel from 2 June until 31 August 2021.

The travel period for tours and experiences booked with a voucher runs until 31 July 2021.