Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Event Tourism

The Hon. J.E. HANSON (15:34): I recently had a bit of an interesting discussion. Unless you live under a rock, you would know that a very popular American financial journal recently indicated that Adelaide—indeed, South Australia—might just be one of the coolest cities in Australia. Whether you think we are or not, what was interesting about that was that it came up in a discussion I then had very recently with some of my interstate colleagues from the east coast.

Very recently, we also announced that the Gather Round is coming back to South Australia. We have the dates for it. We have the schedule. It is coming out. Make sure you get along to it, Acting President, because it is going to be fabulous. The fact is that most people who come along to the Gather Round, if they are coming from interstate, come from Victoria, and I had a discussion with some of my friends in Victoria about how they are going to come here.

We had the usual jibes that we always have around, 'You can come across for the F1s and we will come across for the Gather Round.' It was like, 'Ha, ha.' The interesting thing about it was that the coolest city thing came up and they felt the need to tell me, 'You know you're not the coolest city, right?' I was like, 'Well, I don't really care. I don't think anyone in South Australia really did. It's nice, but we don't really give a stuff. It's interesting that you do.'

It was interesting as well that they raised the F1s, because they felt the need—as an F1 fan—to raise that. Despite having it for over a decade, they are yet to beat the attendance record that Adelaide set when we last had it in 1995—520,000 people, by the way. Maybe they will get there one day. However, the Gather Round for us was an enormous success last time, bringing in 220,000 people. My understanding is that the largest amount of them came from Victoria.

That was just it: we had this back-and-forth with Victorians, my mates, and I started to realise that I do not actually care. I do not care what Victoria is doing, it has not come up with me, but they seem to know a lot about what is happening in South Australia, which was really quite encouraging. They raised a number of events we had recently. They even raised the Premier, Peter Malinauskas. They said, 'He might be popular, but wait a while.' Well, nonetheless, he is popular, and they knew who he was. I am actually struggling to remember who is going to be the Victorian Premier once Dan Andrews resigns. I do not know who that is going to be, which is interesting.

So they know who we are, they knew that we had the Gather Round, they knew that we had Illuminate Adelaide, they knew that we had WOMADelaide, they knew that we had LIV Golf, they knew about the Adelaide 500—albeit, the old Grand Prix thing came up—and they knew about the Tour Down Under. They even knew about the Harvest Rock festival, which I found very interesting.

What was fascinating about this was all the psychology that was playing out in this conversation I was having with them. I am sorry to my mates for putting you on the front page, guys, but I said I would—and I am. It just raised with me this vibe: something has changed about South Australia. They have not changed. They are talking about us now. South Australia has changed.

The fact is that when you are dealing with these kinds of things you are going to be judged because you created something, or you can be ignored because you did not bother. South Australia has really created something. We have created something around a strong domestic market. The fact is that is how most Australians travel.

Most Australians are enthusiastic travellers, even more so after the pandemic finished. In 2022, overnight and daytrip spending surpassed pandemic levels nationally. The fact is that local or domestic travel via interstate is a goldmine and accounts for almost three-quarters of the total of Australia's tourism spend. It will add up to over $130 billion by 2027, and the fact is that South Australia is getting them here.

It is not just for the Gather Round; it is for all the events we are having. We have created something pretty special here, and I am always reminded by it when I see the increasing numbers of numberplates coming to South Australia from Victoria. They have somewhat of an ironic slogan now on some of them, because they say, 'The place to be', yet here they are, in South Australia. Long may they come. I hope they stay an extra night, and I look forward to seeing them over the next few months.