2022 Adelaide Festival hailed as a tourism windfall for SA

The 2022 Adelaide Festival attracted 11,782 visitors from interstate and generated an increased estimated gross expenditure of $51.8 million for South Australia, according to an economic impact report released today.

Jun 21, 2022, updated Jun 22, 2022
'Macro' - Adelaide Festival's free opening night spectacular - was presented on the Village Green at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

'Macro' - Adelaide Festival's free opening night spectacular - was presented on the Village Green at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Andrew Beveridge

The 17-day Festival program ­– the sixth and final one presented by artistic directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield ­– ran from March 4-20 and comprised 71 events featuring Australian and international artists.

The economic evaluation by Barry Burgan, of Economic Research Consultants, found three times more interstate visitors attended the 2022 Festival compared with the 2021 event, which was affected by border closures with some states.

His report, commissioned by the Festival, found visitor bed nights also returned to near pre-pandemic levels, up from 35,301 in 2021 to 103,335 this year. Up to 40 per cent of audiences across the opening week were from interstate, while 24 per cent of audiences overall were from interstate or overseas.

The estimated gross expenditure of $51.8 million (up from $42.5 million in 2021) is calculated based on all economic activity associated with the festival ­– from ticket purchases to hotel and travel expenses and job creation.

“I am so incredibly proud, not only of the economic impact this remarkable event had on South Australia, and the number of visitors it attracted, but of the way in which the Adelaide Festival team adapted and brought the Adelaide Festival 2022 program to life,” chair of the Festival board Judy Potter said in a statement.

The 2022 Festival was affected by the pandemic through reduced venue capacities and late program changes, but achieved total box office income of more than $5 million. Highlights included operatic centrepiece The Golden Cockerel, contemporary dance double bill The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], and acclaimed theatre show The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Minister for the Arts Andrea Michaels said today the success of the 2022 Festival cemented South Australia as “the festival destination in Australia”, adding that the event was not only a driver for tourism, “but it is essential to our identity, our economy and for the incredible opportunities it gives our artists. It makes this international arts festival the jewel in the cultural crown of South Australia”.

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(It was announced at the end of the 2022 program that British arts leader Ruth Mackenzie had been appointed the next artistic director of the Adelaide Festival and will take up her new role in the middle of this year after Healy and Armfield decided to step back earlier than planned.)

WOMADelaide, presented in March as part of the Festival program, released a separate 2022 economic impact report earlier this month showing that it generated estimated gross associated expenditure of $33.6 million throughout the SA economy.

In its return to the seven-stage, four-day format in Botanic Park, the music festival was found to have  created 52,300 visitor nights in South Australia (22.6 per cent of the audience travelled from Victoria and 12.9 per cent from NSW). The WOMADelaide report also evaluates the event’s impact on wellbeing, estimating that in dollar terms South Australians received a “wellbeing benefit” of $3.8 million over and above what they spent in attending.

Adelaide Fringe is set to share the results of its 2022 economic impact statement this Friday.

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