Visitors keep city occupied

Visitors keep city occupied

Regional South Australia has experienced its most successful month on record for accommodation, with a record number of rooms booked in October 2023.

More than 146,000 rooms were occupied in October, nearly 20,000 more than October’s pre-pandemic levels.

Rooms occupied in all regions exceeded pre-pandemic levels, with the Limestone Coast experiencing a 33% increase compared to October 2019.

Every month since the start of 2022 has surpassed pre-COVID levels in regional South Australia and the regions have now achieved 22-consecutive months of performance exceeding the same months in 2019.

Mount Gambier Chamber of Commerce vice president Michael Kosch confirmed Limestone Coast accommodation numbers were exceeding pre-pandemic numbers.

Mr Kosch believes the return of large community events is a driving factor for regional accommodation achieving its best month on record.

“We had a good weekend (recently) with the Mount Gambier Gift and there’s been a number of large events over the last few months across October and November that have really driven demand for accommodation,” he said.

“We have also got the benefit that we’re such a strong business hub, so corporates and business reps travelling for their commercial needs, we have really seen a strong presence of those guys over the last few months.

“Corporate trade remained extremely strong, and local events through October. November has been exceptionally strong with great occupancy.”

Mr Kosch said the number of nights people were staying varied greatly, citing longer stays during the festive season.

“Over Christmas people stay longer, with people visiting family and staying for two, three, or four nights. A lot of corporates are one, two, sometimes three night stays,” he said.

“On average, the guests we’re seeing are around two night stays.

“International guests are still quite a small segment, Victoria and eastern states have always been a strong driver of accommodation in the Limestone Coast.

“Many that are big corporations, like forestry, have a strong representation or staffing coming from eastern states.

“But, of course, Adelaide and wider South Australia is still making up around the other half.”

Mr Kosch owns several accommodation establishments in Mount Gambier and said strong numbers had been recorded across all of these.

“It’s been a good story and we are experiencing some growth, not the level of growth we saw across last year, but still further growth than what we had the previous year,” he said.

Mr Kosch said although there were some unpredictable times ahead, he believed the Christmas to New Year period would remain strong.

“The outlook into December is a bit unpredictable given it’s been so busy. We are looking ahead to a busy Christmas period, but I’d say December is a bit unpredictable at this point in time,” he said.

“I think the scene of the conversation at the moment is it is probably getting a bit more difficult to predict what’s happening week to week.”

Mr Kosch said although people were now tending to book further in advance than they were during the COVID pandemic, lead times were still relatively short.

He believed this was largely due to people living busy lives, resulting in travel and booking arrangements still being planned somewhat later, and said cost of living pressures were also affecting people’s decisions on how and when they travelled.

“We’re coming off a period of where people were travelling very often and returning to travel after the pandemic when people were isolated and missing connections with families and friends, which got people onto the roads and exploring regions of the Limestone Coast. We will probably see a softening that regard,” he said.

“With border closures, people were getting out and exploring the regions and hoteliers and accommodation operators across the Limestone Coast were really benefiting throughout that.”

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