More eyes on South Australia than ever

An unparalleled regional tourism boom and surge in domestic interest in South Australia have driven a record 12.6 million visits to the state’s key tourism portal, southaustralia.com in the past 12 months, as well as the highest regional occupancy rate yet to be recorded.

As the visitor economy works to recover its 2019 $8.1 billion high, the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) recorded over 3.3 million direct leads to South Australian tourism operators and events for the financial year 2020/21 – more than tripling the previous record set, at 1 million leads in 2019/20.

It comes as Adelaide took the title of Australia’s most liveable city, Australia’s second-most popular tourist destination under the federal government’s half-price airline tickets scheme, and mainland Australia’s most occupied CBD hotels in March.

Read more: Adelaide names ‘world’s least stressful’ city

Regional SA has clocked record-high room nights stayed for six consecutive months, and total visitor expenditure in South Australia in March this year hit 93 per cent of pre-COVID (March 2019) levels, even without international tourists.

The latest data from global hotel analytics firm, STR, also highlights regional tourism continues to boom, with room nights occupied in May 2021 hitting 71 per cent – the highest level of room nights occupied in regional South Australia since 2013 when recording began.

Pre-COVID, the corresponding May in 2019 was 54 per cent occupancy, and last year in the middle of the pandemic, it was 18 per cent – showing a dramatic recovery in support of the state’s tourism sector.

SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex said South Australia is punching well above its weight and tourism operators are reaping the rewards.

“In what’s been an incredibly tough time for tourism, we’ve seen interest in South Australia hit an all-time high – not only domestically as we all holiday closer to home, but also globally with our new ranking of the world’s third most liveable city.

“Over three million direct leads to South Australian tourism operators were generated last financial year – that’s three million phone calls, emails or a ‘book now’ from a consumer eager to travel SA to one of the more than 8000 tourism businesses and events listed on southaustralia.com,” said Mr Harrex.

Read more: Holiday travel drives domestic airline recovery

The SATC invests in marketing to drive consumers to southaustralia.com and to ensure listings are prominent in internet searches. There is no cost to the operator to list on the site, no commission charges, and operators can update their listing as they make changes or improvements to their business.

Operators are encouraged to create a listing on the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW), the national database for digital tourism information, covering accommodation, events, tours and experiences, food and drink offerings, and more.

Paracombe Premium Perry CEO Damian McArdle said: “I registered our business on the ATDW platform when we started, not knowing what it was or how it worked. In hindsight, it was one of the best things we did. It put our new business with no online presence, in front of national and state tourism organisations, and in front of a whole heap of customers that we likely would have never reached without the listing. We now view the ATDW as a ‘must have’ for our business and recommend registering on the platform to everyone around us.”

Read more: Sunny outlook for domestic travel

“I encourage all South Australian tourism operators, from bars, restaurants, wineries and distilleries, to tours, experiences and events, to ensure they have an active listing on the ATDW,” said Mr Harrex. “It’s a simple way to drive exposure and bookings across our state’s tourism sector as we work to recover our visitor economy and leverage the record-breaking regional tourism demand.”

Have you visited South Australia? Are you surprised at the rise in tourist numbers? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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