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In a year when events were cancelled and planes were pulled from the sky, South Australian tourism operators saw a record-breaking number of bookings and inquiries via the state's key tourism portal, southaustralia.com. Despite bushfires, drought and pandemic, the South Australian Tourism Commission recorded just over 1 million direct leads to South Australian tourism operators for the financial year 2019/20 - an increase of nearly 60 per cent on the previous year, with over 630,000 leads in 2018/19.

South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said the state's tourism sector saw a surge in interest from intra- and inter- state in what was an extraordinary year.

"Over 1 million leads were made to South Australian tourism operators last financial year - that's 1 million phone calls, emails or a 'book now' to one of the more than 8,000 tourism businesses listed on southaustralia.com," said Mr Harrex.

"That's 1 million times that people have got behind our state's tourism sector, going beyond just looking for something to see and do here in SA but making a commission-free inquiry or booking with a South Australian operator.

"In what has been a remarkably difficult time for tourism in the past six months, it's been fantastic to see interest in South Australia surge and we're working hard to see that momentum continue into the future, beyond border and travel restrictions."

Hotel California Road, a boutique accommodation at Inkwell Wines, in McLaren Vale in SA's Fleurieu Peninsula was one of the operators to receive an inquiry or booking within the minute of the 1 millionth lead.

Dudley Brown and Irina Santiago-Brown of Hotel California Road said they are rapt by the turnaround in bookings coming through.

"We were doing refunds a few months ago but now we are booked out solidly in July and for weekends through to October - the response to the SATC's efforts has just been fantastic," he said.

"Welcome Back has really captured the public mood, people want to get out and see SA and support tourism businesses."

The SATC invests in marketing to drive consumers to southaustralia.com and to ensure listings are prominent in internet searches. There is no cost to the operator to list on the site, there is no commission charges, and operators can update their listing as they make changes or improvements to their business.

Campaigns such as the successful #BookThemOut campaign to help communities on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills recover after last summer's bushfires, and the #WelcomeBackSA campaign which aims to get South Australians out and about supporting South Australia post COVID, have helped drive traffic to the tourism portal.

Last financial year, visits to southaustralia.com hit a record 7.5 million visits, up nearly 50 per cent on the previous year. With southaustralia.com being one of the most visited state and territory tourism websites in the country, South Australia is claiming well above its share of voice.

"I encourage all South Australian operators who don't already have a listing on southaustralia.com or who may need to update or refresh their listing, to do so - it is a simple way to help drive sales opportunities to our state's tourism businesses, and help the sector on the road back towards reclaiming its $8.1 billion visitor economy," said Mr Harrex.

This press release was sourced from South Australian Tourism Commission on 09-Jul-2020.