21 Jan 2024

Tourism spend hits $10.2 billion unprecedented record


As one of South Australia’s world-class major events enters its final day, the state’s tourism industry has reached new heights, exceeding $10 billion in total visitor expenditure for the first time. 

Latest data from Tourism Research Australia shows total visitor expenditure in South Australia for the year-ending September 2023 reached $10.2 billion, and that international expenditure has surpassed its pre pandemic value to hit a record $1.22 billion.

It comes as the Santos Tour Down Under is set for a spectacular finish, with the Schwalbe Men’s Stage 6 today from Unley to Mount Lofty. 

The peloton will leave King William Road Unley – where the Unley Gala made its return last night – and climb to Windy Point on its way to the Adelaide Hills’ towns of Mylor, Aldgate, Stirling, Uraidla, Crafers and Bridgewater. The final test will be the on the slopes of Mount Lofty which made its Santos Tour Down Under debut in 2023 and closes out the event’s toughest final weekend ever.

The latest International and National Visitor Survey results (year-ending September 
2023) show:

  • Total visitor expenditure in South Australia reached $10.2 billion – a new alltime high for the state, up three per cent on the year-ending June 2023.
  • International spend has grown to $1.22 billion, surpassing the previous record of $1.21 billion in December 2019 prior to the pandemic.
  • Interstate spend has reached a high of $3.6 billion, up $69 million in the last quarter with intrastate spend steady at a high of $3.2 billion.
  • Visitor spend in regional South Australia remains strong at $4.7 billion, driven by the intrastate market and re-emerging international market.
  • Visitor spend in Adelaide is at a record $5.6 billion, driven by strong growth from the international market.

The year kicked off with the Adelaide International at The Drive and the Santos Tour Down Under. The Adelaide International 2024 drew 51,117 attendees at The Drive, making it the highest attendance record for a single week event since 2020.

Upcoming major events and festivals in South Australia:

  • Laser 2024 Men’s World Championships (Olympic Qualifier) | 24-31 January
  • Laser 2024 – Masters World Championships | 1-10 February
  • UCI Tissot Track Nations Cup | 2-4 February
  • Adelaide Fringe | 16 February – 17 March
  • Adelaide Festival | 1-17 March
  • WOMADelaide | 8-11 March
  • AFL Gather Round | 4-7 April
  • LIV Golf Adelaide | 26 -28 April
  • 2024 Australian Athletics Championships | 6-14 April
  • Adelaide Equestrian Festival | 18-21 April
  • Santos Wheelchair Rugby National Championships | 2-5 May
  • Tasting Australia presented by RAA Travel | 3-12 May
  • Adelaide Cabaret Festival | 9-24 June
  • Illuminate Adelaide | 4-21 July
  • 2024 Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final | 3 August
  • Dale Chihuly Exhibition | 27 September 2024 – 29 April 2025
  • Harvest Rock | October
  • Top Fuel Drag Championships | October
  • PGA Webex Players Series | October
  • National Pharmacies Christmas Pageant | November
  • Feast Festival | November
  • VAILO Adelaide 500 | 14-17 November

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said the record $10.2 billion in tourism spend is terrific news for South Australia – cracking the 10-billion-dollar milestone for the first time.

"That’s $10.2 billion injected straight into our economy and into the thousands of tourism businesses across our state who continue to provide world-class visitor experiences," Minister Bettison said. 

"With an expected easing of the tourism economy nationally in the coming year, we are continuing to invest in demand drivers like major events and our push to grow key sectors like cruise.

"In 2024 we will welcome back a host of major events like the second editions of AFL Gather Round and LIV Golf Adelaide which have both seen incredible demand for tickets, as well as calendar favourites like the Santos Tour Down Under where I am today. 

"On top of this, a record number of cruise ship visits, another round of River Revival Vouchers, exciting new product including the reopening of Southern Ocean Lodge in Kangaroo Island, and our domestic campaign continuing to entice Australians to ‘Travel Our Way’ – we are pulling all levers to help entice visitors to book a trip to South Australia in 2024.

"There is a certain momentum and real pride amongst all South Australians which we have never seen before as we continue to grow tourism in our state making South Australia a world-class destination that everyone needs to visit and experience." 

Australian Hotels Association SA CEO, Anna Moeller said the data supporting this record milestone reinforces that tourism and hospitality has the potential to be a significant engine room for jobs and investment in South Australia going forward. 

"These results are reflective of the continuing recovery of the industry post the devastation of covid," Ms Moeller said.