CRICKET and koalas helped propel South Australia to a record year of international tourism, with visitor numbers soaring 7 per cent in the year to December 2017 to 462,000.
Spending increased by a whopping 18 per cent to $1.1 billion.
Adelaide took the lion’s share but spending was spread throughout the regions as small operators showed visitors SA’s “wow” factor.
The UK was the No.1 market for visitors to the state. Cricket fans flocking to the second Ashes Test in December, pushing British visitor arrivals to 74,000 – an increase of 17 per cent on the previous year.
They spent $86 million in SA.
Next was the booming and big-spending Chinese market.
Visitor numbers jumped by a third to 60,000 as eager arrivals looked for experiences such as selfies with kangaroos and koalas in places including Cleland Wildlife Park.
China was easily the top market for spending, contributing $389 million – 55 per cent up on the previous year, according to the Tourism Research Australia data.
Other markets that showed solid growth in visitor numbers included Italy (up 21 per cent to 11,000), France (up 8 per cent to 15,000) and New Zealand (up 8 per cent to 40,000).
Federal Tourism Minister Steve Ciobo said: “This record run is great for South Australia.”
SA Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said: “These figures are terrific news, reflecting more jobs and more dollars.”
He noted the revamped Adelaide Oval and the rise in cruise ship calls and air links continued to drive growth.
Nationally, spending by international visitors reaching a record $41.3 billion for the year, an increase of 6 per cent.