Domestic tourism reaches record heights

Brockenchack Wines owners Marilyn and Trevor Harch (centre) with general manager brand sales and export Darren Naylor and marketing manager Megan McMurdo at the launch of the new cellar door at Keyneton last week.
Brockenchack Wines owners Marilyn and Trevor Harch (centre) with general manager brand sales and export Darren Naylor and marketing manager Megan McMurdo at the launch of the new cellar door at Keyneton last week.

Newly released figures reveal domestic tourism within the state have reached record heights, with Tourism Barossa also confirming its positive flow of visitors to the region.

The latest tourism data shows South Australia’s national visitor expenditure has reached a record level of $5.6 billion, which is up eight per cent for the year ending June 2018.

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex shared how proud he is of the performance of the visitor economy.

“Our record of delivering quality events, our marketing efforts, hardworking operators and exceptional experiences are propelling the state forward,” he said.

Echoing the success is Tourism Barossa regional tourism manager Cathy Wills who agrees wholeheartedly with his comments.

While a breakdown of figures are yet to inform SA regional tourist destinations of exact visitation numbers, Ms Wills said the ripple effect is clear and evident in the Barossa.

“When you drive around you can see the same good numbers here,” she said.

Ms Wills says the majority of success in the region is due to the strong alliance of tourism operators and associated venues.

“It is very important to recognise the hard work and investment of operators in the Barossa who put on quality events.”

Historically, she refers to 1947 with the inaugural Barossa Vintage Festival – a longstanding celebration of the grapes, the community and the people.

Today, in her capacity as a tourism manager and as resident, Ms Wills praises the cellar doors and venues who during the year step out of their comfort zones to host innovative and creative events.

“Sometimes this can be for 1000 people, sometimes for 50 people – everyone of those events become a catalyst to drive visitors to our region,” she said.

This month Ms Wills was part of the soiree who welcomed with open arms Seppeltsfield Rd Distillers at Marananga, a gin distillery owned and operated by Nicole and Jon Durdin.

And on Wednesday evening, October 10, she was part of the crowd invited to Sawpit Gully Road, Keyneton, to celebrate the opening of Brockenchack Wines owned by Trevor and Marilyn Harch. 

In a speech, Barossa Grape and Wine Association chief executive James March spoke about the cellar door placing Eden Valley further on the map and making the area more accessible to visitors.

“Eden Valley, to me, represents a sense of momentum, a sense of success...it’s a jewel in the crown,” Mr March said.

In addition to the latest openings, First Drop Wines, Nuriootpa, held a unique gathering, the Fat Drip BBQ competition and Barossa markets, which drew in a hoard of visitors, including those living interstate.

Saturday’s fine weather took both locals and visitors to the other side of Angaston to sit back and relax enjoy wines, food and music as part of Thorn Clarke Wines’ Feast and Forage.

Plus, the South Para Reservoir anniversary committee also brought in more than 120 visitors from across the state and interstate to Barossa’s south to help celebrate the 60th milestone opening of the reservoir, October 1958.

“This is what makes the Barossa a brilliant tourism destination,” Ms Wills said.

“Any rise in visitation over the past 12 months and any rise visitation that we look for in the coming 12 months, credit needs to be given to the businesses who are actually producing product that is appealing.”

“I greatly appreciate the operators because they go through the effort of sourcing, creating, and I thank them.”

Meanwhile, recent data also shows that overnight visitation within South Australia has grown to a record high 6.5 million, up five per cent in the past 12 months. 

It further reveals that key interstate markets include Queensland, up 13 per cent, Victoria, up 10 per cent and New South Wales, up eight per cent.

The state’s regions, like the Barossa, are reaping the rewards too, with regional visitation growing to a record 4 million visits and 14.4 million nights.

“To see that segment is growing across Australia and in SA, we are looking forward to continuing that large piece of the pie,” Ms Wills said.

And with Christmas fast approaching, Ms Wills and tourism operators are optimistic people will take the time to explore their own backyard.