SA reopened for intrastate regional travel in mid-May, and since then, visitation numbers to the regions have been highly encouraging, with the trend looking likely to continue in the coming school holiday period.
While international travel is still off the cards, and interstate visitor numbers have been well down due to various COVID-19 border restrictions, the SA Tourism Commission reported regional accommodation occupancy to have still reached 49 per cent in July - on par with 50pc in July 2019.
SATC chief executive Rodney Harrex said there had been an "amazing response" from South Australians exploring the regions, who have made up for the absence of corporates and holiday-makers from outside SA.
"We are hearing from regional operators that the level of visitation is going really well. Some businesses have had the best winter periods they have ever had," he said.
Travellers want to know that there is a lot to do in a particular area.
With the opening of the SA/NSW border from midnight last night, and warmer conditions ahead, Mr Harrex predicted the encouraging numbers would continue in the coming school holiday period and beyond.
"My advice to anyone looking to travel in SA in the spring or summer holidays is to book ahead, otherwise you'll miss out," he said.
Brenton Davis, who owns Vivonne Bay-based KI Outdoor Action and Little Sahara Adventure Centre, is hopeful of good numbers in the school holiday period, after a tough start to the year.
While relatively unscathed by the summer bushfires, the business was forced to close in April - its second busiest month of the year - because of COVID-19, just as visitor numbers were climbing again.
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Having reopened in June, Mr Davis said it was a unique time to visit Kangaroo Island, with a "carpet of greenery" present across the landscape, rather than thick bush.
About 50pc of their customers were typically from overseas, but Mr Davis hoped SA travellers could help fill the void.
"The more that domestic travellers can get out, the more difference it will make. Everyone on KI needs the most help they can possibly get," he said.
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TOURISM operators in regional areas are being encouraged to join forces to advertise broad campaigns rather than individual experiences, in order to best incentivise domestic travellers.
Speaking on a Regional Australia Institute webinar on Wednesday, looking at the role domestic tourism could play to fill the international tourism gap, Australian Regional Tourism chair Coralie Bell said any region that could showcase many experiences across multiple towns would be more likely to attract travellers and encourage them to visit again in the future.
"Travellers want to know that there is a lot to do in a particular area," she said.
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Expedia Group business development senior regional manager Lisa Whitelaw said a traveller sentiment survey conducted by the company in July showed 76 per cent of participants were planning to travel domestically by the end of the year.
"The survey showed preferences for road travel, the great outdoors and adventure, which makes regions very appealing to travel to," she said.
The survey found 87pc of potential travellers wanted to know about health and hygiene practices being undertaken by tourism operators, while 60pc were looking for "off the beaten track" recommendations to avoid large crowds.
Booking flexibility was also commonly desired.
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