Business activity for tourism operators in South Australia has hit a record low as a result of COVID-19 according to the TiCSA Tourism Barometer March 2020 quarter.

The barometer survey for the January to March 2020 quarter found that the Business Activity Index fell by 55 per cent, which represents the largest decline in the nine-year history of the survey. Forced business closures, travel restrictions and reduced forward bookings were the biggest contributors.

Despite major negative influences, a small portion of respondents reported stronger activity when compared to the March 2019 quarter. Positive factors included activity growth, particularly over the summer peak period, increased marketing awareness and cruise ship visits.

Tourism Business Outlook Deteriorates

The Business Outlook for the next three months has also deteriorated with almost all respondents (minus one) expecting weaker market conditions.

This sentiment was also reflected in the twelve-month outlook with no respondents feeling ‘extremely confident’ about their business prospects. The longer-term business sentiment is now at a historical low with COVID-19 attributed as the main contributor.

Even though the business sentiment is extremely low, there are some factors that are giving operators hope for an expeditious recovery. Most notably, it is anticipated that people will be eager to get out and about once restrictions are lifted.

COVID-19 has also increased activity for some businesses through online components, as well as allowed some operators to take time to work on their business.

Employment Levels Grew Pre COVID-19

According to the latest ABS Labour Force Survey, employment levels in the South Australian accommodation and food service reported a 0.5 per cent growth prior to the impact of COVID-19.

14 per cent of respondents stated that their wages bill had increased, while 46 per cent reported that their wages bill had decreased. COVID-19 was once again noted as the primary contributor due to diminished business activity.

Booking Cancellations Have Biggest Impact Amid COVID-19

To help inform our advocacy efforts, members were questioned on the extent to which COVID-19 had impacted their businesses.

All respondents reported negative impacts on their business, with 95 per cent having experienced significant effects.

Of the members who took part in the survey, 90 per cent stated that booking cancellations had the biggest impact. 58 per cent of respondents have been forced to close their business, resulting in 80 per cent of operators experiencing reduced turnover and/or cash-flow.

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