13 Nov 2022

Tourism spending in SA topples 2019 levels as major events season heats up

Tourism spending in South Australia has hit a new monthly post-pandemic record high toppling 2019 levels.

The winter record comes as the state gets set for a spate of major events and festivals heating up Adelaide’s spring and summer.

New National Visitor Strategy data shows total visitor expenditure in South Australia in August was $747 million – making it a post-COVID record of 115 per cent of its 2019 spend.

It is the fifth consecutive month in which visitor expenditure was above or near pre-COVID levels.

Latest National Visitor Survey data for August 2022 from the South Australian Tourism Commission shows:

  • Total visitor expenditure in South Australia in August 2022 was 115 per cent of 2019 levels – making a new monthly post-pandemic record high
  • At $747 million, it includes $693 million in domestic spend (interstate and intrastate) – up 20 per cent on the same month in 2019 (August 2019 at $578 million)
  • Interstate spend was $280 million, up a whopping 32 per cent on 2019 levels.

An analysis of hotel data (source: STR) shows the international rugby double-header at Adelaide Oval on 27 August was one of the most significant drivers of interstate visitation that month.

Forward booking data from STR shows surges in CBD hotel bookings over the weekend of the inaugural Harvest Rock, a two-day music, food, wine and brew festival in Rymill and King Rodney Parks, the Australia v West Indies day-night Test Match at Adelaide Oval, and the four days of the VALO Adelaide 500, when the Supercars will return to the city streets.

The record-breaking results come as airlines continue to show strong recovery, with international airline schedules currently at 65 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and domestic airlines sitting at 105 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

With boosts to airline schedules by Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Airlines, weekly international flights are predicted to rise above 90 per cent by January.

Minister for Tourism, Zoe Bettison said the last month of winter was the best month the state has seen in more than two and a half years.

"This is an incredible achievement, and it puts us in terrific position as we come into the peak summer and festival period," she said. 

"There is growing demand from interstate, shown clearly by the jump in interstate visitor spend of over 30 per cent on pre pandemic levels – and it’s exciting what this trend means for our major events.

"The data once again shows the importance of events for driving visitation – we saw that for the rugby double-header and we’re seeing that in hotel forward bookings for the upcoming Harvest Rock, VALO Adelaide 500, the day-night Test Match, and as far ahead as the Santos Tour Down Under.

"Greater connectivity with our airline partners is crucial as we work to reclaim our state’s $1.2 billion international market, so it is tremendous to have such strong growth in international airline seats into Adelaide and more events on the horizon."

Hilton Adelaide General Manager, Rupert Hallam said the hotel has seen Covid recovery continuing to build from March 2022, and after the usual winter challenges, August emerged with stronger group and event business, reaching 2019 levels.

"The Rugby saw some extra leisure demand in the last half of the month, and while domestic business remains our key geographic, it was great to start to see some international business return," he said.

"The remainder of 2022 and into 2023 also looks positive with demand from past events such as the ICC T20 World Cup and Christmas Pageant, and upcoming ones like the VALO Adelaide 500 and the return of the Santos Tour Down Under helping to fill city hotels."

Australian Hotels Association SA General Manager, Ian Horne said it was terrific to see the city hotels fill up for big events.

"The atmosphere is amazing, and I’m hearing so many good stories of visitors to our city and state loving what they are discovering here," he said.

"We know big events like last Thursday’s ICC T20 World Cup are a massive boost for hotels, and with Harvest Rock and the Adelaide 500 just around the corner, we’re seeing a really big spike in forward bookings and a lot of positivity to help finish the year with a bang.

"To see a packed summer calendar is an early Christmas gift for hoteliers, their staff and the whole hospitality sector."