Welcome to the September 2020 edition of Tourism News, and what an incredible month it has been for South Australia’s tourism recovery.
We’re in the first week of school holidays and operators across the state are enjoying the influx of locals holidaying at home and a real spike in visitors from our newest domestic market, New South Wales. Since SA borders reopened to NSW, we’ve seen airlines up their weekly flight quota between the two capital cities, and flight sales skyrocket – Qantas and Jetstar sold 15,000 seats in the first 24 hours of the border reopening. With the lifting of restrictions to NSW, it also meant travellers from the ACT are able to move more freely between our states, and SA really leads the way in terms of opening up, aiding tourism’s economic recovery and reuniting families and loved ones.
We’ve seen accommodation occupancy in the regions reach almost the same levels as this time last year; while anecdotally, I’ve heard from operators who have had their “best winter business ever”. The most recent Adelaide hotel data is by no means at pre COVID levels, at 36 per cent for the first three weeks of September, but it is pleasing that it’s on the up.
A large part of the SATC’s focus over the last month has been on tourism stimulus and support – how we can get more people into the city and the regions, and help businesses not only recover but come back stronger.
We’ve had applications for the Tourism Industry Development Fund from across the state - applications from private businesses who are excited to be able to put their plans for new and improved regional tourism infrastructure into action. The first group of TIDF applications are already being assessed and I hope to be able to share the news of these soon.
Similarly, South Australian travel consumers – from couples to families to groups of friends – are excited about claiming their $100 and $50 Great State vouchers. My team put a lot of work into this package and in determining what will drive bookings across our state, and what will create the biggest flow-on impact. By enticing the intrastate market to stay overnight, to expand on their daytrip plans, and offering discounted accommodation at some never-before-seen prices, we know they will have more time and more money to spend on experiences, on tours, attractions and hospitality while there. The $100 vouchers for CBD hotels and $50 for regional and suburban accommodation of 10 rooms or more, will be available from 9am on 15 October on southaustralia.com/voucher. I look forward to a strong uptake of these vouchers and an even stronger return for the industry.
September was also a key month for the 2025 South Australian Regional Visitor Strategy, having started and wrapped up 15 workshops across the state. Being involved in 14 of 15 workshops and getting out across all 11 tourism regions myself, I am pleased to report that the passion and commitment of our regional tourism industry has never been stronger. The conversations were robust, and we made great inroads in determining the priorities for each region – partly informed by the 2020 Strategy and by the recent survey which had over 650 responses state-wide. Next steps are to develop the draft 2025 Strategy and share it back with our regional chairs and managers for feedback.
I am pleased to hear this week’s news that Kangaroo Island is set to receive some financial support in next week’s Federal Budget, to assist in its rebuild post drought, bushfires and COVID-19. We know regions will be key to the recovery of our visitor economy and this will only further boost efforts already in place in SA.
Read on for a summary of achievements and updates from across SA’s tourism industry in September, and I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this long weekend.