The TiCSA Tourism Barometer survey for the January to March 2019 quarter found that the tourism Business Activity Index, while remaining in positive territory[1], contracted slightly with the index down by 5 points (4%) to 116.

The Business Outlook Index covering expectations for the next three months was down by 1 point (< 1%) to 134 points.

Respondents identified the events season in Adelaide and elsewhere in regional South Australia, as well as the cruise market as positive influences. The Adelaide Fringe Festival continues to go from strength to strength with a 17% increase in box office sales when compared to 2018. Next year will be the events 60th anniversary and will be held in conjunction with the 2020 Fringe World Congress which should further boost attendance.

The cruise ships also had a record season with 84 arrivals over the period October 2018 to March 2019 – an increase of 23% from the previous year and a net benefit of $118 million to the state’s economy.

The data from Tourism Research Australia for the year ending December 2018 shows that the overall visitor expenditure for South Australia is now worth $6,762 million.

Respondents were optimistic regarding the outlook for the next three months on the back of the Easter holidays falling toward the end of April and aligning with Anzac Day this year, regional events and the drive touring season. It was anticipated that the inflows of water to Lake Eyre will boost the number of visitors to the outback over the autumn and winter period. Marketing by state and regional tourism authorities was also identified.

Negatives for the industry included the extreme weather over summer, the continuing decline of the backpacker market which is down by 10% in calendar 2018 compared with the previous year, increased competition and pressure on yields due to discounting.

The upcoming Federal election in May was also regarded as a negative factor which may impact travel demand.

The Labour Force survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics[2] showed that the number of persons employed in accommodation and food services in February 2019 was 56,100 – up by 6% from February 2018. Full time employment was up by 18% to 23,100 while part time employment was down slightly to 32,900.

TiCSA Chief Executive Officer Shaun de Bruyn says that support from government at all levels is key to a competitive tourism industry in South Australia.

“Expenditure for South Australia is performing well, however, there is fierce competition both nationally and globally, and our growth is less than the national average,” says Shaun.

“Ongoing support and investment from government, such as the Federal Government’s recent $50 million Tourism Icons Package, is critical for our growth momentum at this time.

“On behalf of our members, we will continue to advocate for increased funding to support destination marketing, business capability building, regional development and leisure events across the state.”

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[1] An index above 100 indicates growth with more businesses experiencing an increase when compared to those experiencing contraction. An index below 100 indicates more businesses experienced weaker conditions.

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics. Cat. 6291.0.55.003. Labour Force Australia, Detailed