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Tough year delivers increased market share for SA tourism


South Australia’s share of the national tourism market grew significantly in 2020, giving the local industry hope for a strong recovery when spending returns to pre-COVID levels.

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Federal Government figures for 2020 show total tourism expenditure in SA fell 42 per cent to $4.7 billion in the coronavirus-impacted year, down from $8.1 billion in 2019.

But further analysis released by Tourism Industry Council South Australia (TiCSA) today shows that despite the sharp fall in spending, SA increased its market share during the year.

The percentage of tourists in Australia spending time in SA reached 7.9 per cent in 2020, up from 6.8 per cent in 2019.

The state’s national share of total tourism spend was also on the rise, reaching 6.6 per cent in 2020 up from 5.8 per cent in 2019

SA is home to 6.9 per cent of Australia’s population and 6.9 per cent has also been the 10-year average for the state’s market share of visitors while the 10-year expenditure share is 6.1 per cent.

TiCSA CEO Shaun de Bruyn said increasing visitor market share by 1.1 per cent over a 12-month period was a significant lift and a huge opportunity for the state.

“Overall the tourism pie has shrunk over the past 12-18 months but pleasingly SA has lifted its market share, which means we are more competitive than we have been in terms of grabbing a piece of the national tourism expenditure pie than we have for many years,” he said.

“As the pie grows back out to where it was, if we can hold that market share it will deliver a huge economic gain for our state.”

South Australia grew its market share of visitors in 2020 across all categories: Day trips, Intrastate, Interstate and International.

In terms of expenditure market share, only International dipped but that was from a very low base due to coronavirus border closures that prevented overseas travel for the bulk of the year.

“The reality is, it’s incredibly challenging but for us to be able to increase our market share, albeit at a time when total expenditure is decreasing, shows that we are more competitive at a national level than we were 12 months ago,” de Bruyn said.

“That’s a positive indicator as we go back into growth over coming months.”

TiCSA also today released the results of its “Tourism Barometer” for the March quarter, which shows the confidence among 205 survey respondents is on the rise.

The report’s barometer of business activity for the past three months reached 103 in the March quarter,  the highest level since late 2019.

The business outlook of respondents for the next 12 months also jumped to 136, its highest level since 2017.

“We are seeing the scale slowly shifting towards positive sentiment and this is the first time we’ve seen that in positive territory for 18 months, since before the bushfires and COVID,” de Bruyn said.

“It’s not all beer and skittles – it’s important to recognise that there are many tourism businesses still doing it incredibly tough but we believe that this is a sign that business activity for tourism is turning the corner.

“Winter is going to be very challenging for many businesses but this is certainly positive news, particularly around the market share and the fact that the majority of tourism businesses have a more positive outlook for the next 12 months.”

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