South Australia tourism is back in the spotlight for all the right reasons

TD speaks with Brent Hill, executive director of marketing, South Australia Tourism Commission

TD Editorial Director APAC
Umpherston Sinkhole, Limestone Coast. Photo: Offroad Images

Enjoying the distance now between devastating bushfires and COVID-19, South Australia is open for business again with much more to offer, see and do.

TD caught up with Brent Hill, executive director of marketing, South Australia Tourism Commission, and talked about travel recovery and getting the word out.

Brent Hill, Executive Director, Marketing, SATC

Travel Daily (TD): As a destination marketing body, what have you learned?

Brent Hill (BH): We’ve learnt so much and we continue to do so. Firstly, we listened to those worst affected by the fires, ensuring safety and communication, reacting and supporting wherever we could. For our industry stakeholders and the people on the ground, recovery was immediately on everyone’s lips, and we had work to do. The second thing we did was to use every asset we own – social and digital media, corporate and government communications. We became cohesive like never before, and we all sent out the essential messages. Adversity has strengthened us all.

We knew we needed to implement an immediate recovery campaign. #BookThemOut was created as the industry needed marketing support and money in its pockets. So, we had to be really quick, and that made a difference. We are very proud of the #BookThemOut campaign, which was adopted nationally.

Then, I think with COVID, we saw a lot of brands go dark that literally said, “See you on the flip side.” We’re taking a breather kind of thing. We felt like we couldn’t do that. We needed to continue to operate.

Our main lesson was to use our audience and grow. We already had eight million annual website visits, and we now have ten million.

For a while, we also set up a whole new channel called SATV. We gave our operators a voice and found fresh eyes. It was fun, engaging and a very creative time for everyone involved. One of the upsides, as a travel community, is we all know each other better now.

Cape Willoughby, Kangaroo Island. Photo: South Australian Tourism Commission

TD: What sets South Australia apart from other destinations, and how do you deliver this message?

BH: We deliver the message across all media, particularly on social media, where we can really see traction and the best results. Our brand philosophy is around a curious place, and South Australia is massive. It’s got incredible coastline, country, outback, river and wine regions. But sometimes that’s hard because we have so much diversity and different landscape. We’ve got to tell so many stories, and that’s what makes South Australia so appealing.

But we feel like Adelaide has come of age, and this amazingly accessible city is quintessentially boutique. It’s an effortless, uncomplicated city to get around and out of town attractions are very close. Adelaide has unique accommodation, some of Australia’s best restaurants, and several new and upcoming five-star hotels, classy roof-top bars, as good as anywhere in the world, a great coffee scene and wine bars. Precincts like the Adelaide Central Market has a funky, eclectic vibe, and the city has emerging confidence. Adelaide has the closest access of any city in Australia to the freshest produce, with an abundance of wine and seafood, exciting chefs and customers alike.

It’s a ‘20-minute city,’ from attraction to attraction, including the Adelaide Hills. Then, in 45 minutes to get McLaren Vale Wineries; or you’re in The Barossa Valley in under 60 minutes. Get on a plane and be on Kangaroo Island in 20 minutes or travel by car for about 90 minutes plus 45 minutes on the ferry. It’s all super-accessible.

Golding Wines, Adelaide Hills. Photo: Adelaide Hills Wine Region

TD: With social media’s impact on travel, where is your strength, and what have you achieved in that space?

BH: When I first started five and a half years ago, I brought a few guys over from a banking background. We set up the whole e-commerce space, literally with no one looking at our website. We now have ten million visits a year, which is the second-highest in the country for any destination. We have two million six hundred posts across all social outlets, and our real strength is the incredible tourism assets of South Australia.

You have to have a powerful digital program. You’ve got to do a whole bunch of integrated pieces that tell the same story, and you chip away. That’s where our success has come from.
We now generate around two and a half million leads, which go straight to the operators contributing bookings.

It’s amazing how powerful social is because we’ve done award-winning campaigns where we said, “Tell Us Where”. Literally, we just put up images of South Australia with no branding, and it went nuts. The good thing is now we’ve got pressure on supply, which is a great position to be in.

Sol Bar & Restaurant, Adelaide. Photo: Meaghan Coles

TD: With so much tourism development happening in South Australia, what can we expect in the next five years?

BH: The quality of product coming through is astounding, and it’s not just the big brands dominating. There is plenty of unique mum-and-dad stuff in South Australia, and that’s where the authenticity comes in. From local ‘passion projects’, fresh produce, immersive day tour experiences to large tourism infrastructure. South Australians are ready for you.

We’re getting all that five-star accommodation we needed from the top-down, but other gaps are being filled. Twenty million is allocated to the Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund, over two years.

The types of business applying are varied from gin distilleries that are doubling in size, arts and culture, caravan parks are putting on glamping experiences – food vendors that we’ve never had, and a refreshed Kangaroo Island.

I’m also absolutely convinced that even when international travel returns, domestic travel will remain strong. A new appreciation of our backyard is a beautiful thing.

TD: What messages do you have for international travel agents?

BH: Keep South Australia in mind, the enquiries and demand are still there. We’ve been busy enhancing our offering and promoting campaigns, and we have so much to offer your clients. Sign up for our SA Experts program, it’s worth investing time in our training:


New Zealand

Stacey Kerr, Regional Manager

Tel: +64 21 036 7694

North America

Ernst Flach, Regional Director

Tel: +1 (323) 417 1488


Helen Sun, Regional Manager

Tel:+86 21 6010 3957

Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan & India

Vivienne Li, Manager, Eastern Markets

Tel: +61 8 8463 4592

Southeast Asia

Alfred Kua, Business Development Manager

Tel:+ 65 6351 6313

UK and Northern Europe 

Janice Kurrle, Marketing Manager

Tel: +44 20 7438 4637

Central Europe

Christine Klein, Marketing Manager

Tel: +49 89 698 063 818

Travelling to Australia once borders reopen? See you in South Australia!
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