South Australia's visitor economy is continuing to boom, with the regions contributing a massive 4.3 million visits and 15.4 million visitor nights to the overall state total.
According to the latest March 2019 National Visitor Survey, tourism expenditure has soared to a record $7.2 billion, with 43 cents of every dollar spent in the regions.
Visitors from Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria provided the biggest boost - helping notch up $6.2b in local spending in addition to over $1b in international expenditure.
Acting Tourism Minister Tim Whetstone said it was great to see Australians heading to the regions in record numbers, spending $2.9b and creating valued economic activity and local jobs. "South Australia's wonderful tourism assets are the talk of the country with people arriving in droves from interstate to sample our amazing food and wine or indulge in a luxury escape to take in our incredible nature and wildlife," he said.
Whyalla Tourism Focus Group Chair Barbara Derham said the increase in visitor numbers to the steel city over the past three years had been remarkable.
"The occupancy rate has climbed during the week, it is still a bit soft on weekends unless events are on. If there are events like sports or music festivals on then the occupancy lifts right across the board," she said.
"We as a group have certainly focused on the visitor economy. Every corporate guest, every tradesperson, every professional that visits the city spends money here."
Ms Derham said this year's cuttlefish season - which sees the Great Australian Cuttlefish aggregate to Point Lowly's shores - has been the busiest yet for the Foreshore Motor-Inn. "We're getting people coming down from all over the world," she said.
:"We had three groups from Adelaide, with 20 in each group, that visited at different times to see the cuttlefish. I think launching the cuttlefish season with the Minister for Tourism David Ridgway was an advantage to the city."