Kangaroo Island is in the midst of the busiest week of the busiest cruise ship season ever.
This comes just as the SA Government announces the State experienced record tourism numbers.
South Australia is welcoming a record number of visitors, with the state’s visitor economy soaring to an all-time-high of $6.9 billion.
Back on KI, this week the Island played host to the 2600-passenger Golden Princess on Tuesday, the 684-passenger MS Regatta on Wednesday, the 1916-passenger Noordam on Friday and the 708-passenger Seven Seas Mariner was due in on Saturday.
The cost and benefits of cruise ship visitation was the subject of an interesting letter to The Islander this week and we will be following up some of the questions raised.
Kangaroo Island typically has the greatest number of international visitors of any regional area, according to Tourism KI chairman Pierre Gregor.
“The recent announcement of record State tourism numbers an increased visitation to KI and the related data is obviously good news and details a trend about which we are already aware,” Mr Gregor said. “The last financial year saw an approximate 6 per cent growth in visitation and the early trend for this financial year looks promising.”
Interestingly, the 6 per cent growth in visitation quoted by the State Government did not include cruise ship passengers coming ashore, he said.
The Tourism Australia Research figures for KI show the four-year average tourism visits were 42,000 international tourists a year and 108,000 domestic overnight visitors a year.
“As I’ve probably stated before, tourism accounts for approximately 35 per cent of the Island’s Gross Regional Product and about 22 per cent of the employment,” Mr Gregor said. “As such, tourism is a major economic pillar for the Island.”
In order to encourage growth in visitation, spend and length of stay, it was vital that visitor satisfaction levels and expectations were met. he said.
The Island’s Tourism Optimisation Management Model (TOMM) Visitor Exit Survey (VES) helps Tourism KI to monitor and respond to, among other things, visitor satisfaction levels.
94 per cent of survey respondents indicated that their experience matched or exceeded the expectation set by marketing materials and 95 per cent indicated that they would recommend Kangaroo Island as a holiday destination to others as a result of their experience.
“All this is positive however the TOMM VES also identifies several areas where the visitor experience can be enhanced,” Mr Gregor said.
“This includes availability of local produce, improved customer service, which impacts local residents as well, and the range and availability of activities. All of this is work in progress.”
As an aside, the average length of stay was a healthy 4.6 nights with international visitors staying an average of about three nights.
The State Government this week welcomed the latest International and National Visitor Survey results, which showed growth in domestic and international expenditure and visitation.
The biggest boost came from interstate guests, with 2.5 million visitors spending a record $2.2 billion in South Australia.
This growth complements an increase in international expenditure, now at $1.15 billion, which is a 4 per cent increase compared to 12 months ago.
Acting Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, David Pisoni said the results were pleasing and a testament to the hard work and passion of thousands of local tourism operators.