SA’s tourism industry falling $1b short of its potential

South Australia’s tourism sector could bring in almost $1 billion a year extra a year if it fulfilled its potential, according to a new report.

The latest industry analysis by Tourism Industry Council SA shows the state claimed only $3.50 of every hundred dollars international tourists spent in Australia in 2018/19, but has the potential for an extra $944 million a year.

Speaking to The Advertiser, Tourism Industry Council SA CEO Shaun de Bruyn said lifting the revenue by another $944 million “requires collaborative and co-ordinated investment from government”.

“Product development and marketing are the key areas for spending,” said de Bruyn.

“The industry is being relied upon more and more to market the state to drive increased expenditure and visitation and it is not sustainable.”

Opposition tourism spokesman Zoe Bettison said the analysis showed the tourism industry was a “lost opportunity”, with the government cutting its tourism spend by $23 million over five years.

But the suggestion was rejected by the State Government and its SA Tourism Commission which pointed to record occupancy rates at hotels.

“We are seeing record volumes for our hoteliers, and a lot more activity coming up over summer with sport, festivals, events and conventions,” SA Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said.

SA Tourism Minister David Ridgway said the the government was “well on track” to reach its target of an $8 billion visitor economy by the end of 2020.

“Private investment in hotel builds across our state is strong which speaks volumes for business confidence,” he said. “We will have an additional 700 new rooms by late 2020 as a result of the SkyCity, Sofitel and Crowne Plaza developments.”