What is the Economic Value of Bushwalking in South Australia

Participation in bushwalking by visitors to South Australia

Participation in bushwalking by visitors to South Australia

Statistics published by Tourism Research Australia and the South Australian Tourism Commission indicate that[1]:

  • 3% of recreational daytrips[2] undertaken in South Australia over the period 2012-2014 involved ‘bushwalking / rainforest walks’ as an activity. This equates to 347,000 daytrips over an average 12 month period.
  • Average daytrip expenditure in regional SA in the year ending June 2015 was $96 per trip. This equates to total expenditure of $33.3 million by day trip visitors that bushwalk.
  • 10% of all overnight domestic visitors to South Australia participate in ‘bushwalking / rainforest walks’ as a component of their visit. This represents around 527,000 visitors annually over the period 2012-2014.
  • The average expenditure in regional SA by domestic overnight visitors was around $430 per visitor in the year ending June 2015. This equates to a total expenditure of $226.4 million by overnight visitors that bushwalk.
  • More than one third (38%) of international visitors to SA participate in ‘bushwalking / rainforest walks’ as a component of their trip to Australia. While this activity may not necessarily occur in SA it represents an average of 138,000 visitors over the period 2012-14.
  • The average length of stay by holiday / VFR[3] purpose international visitors to SA was 16 nights over the period 2012-14 while the average spend per night in regional SA in the year ended June 2015 was $86.

This suggests expenditure by international visitors to SA who bushwalk as a component of their trip of around $189.9 million.

The estimated expenditure made by daytrip and overnight visitor in SA who bushwalk is summarised below.

Day trip Domestic overnight International overnight Total
Visitors 347,000 527,000 138,000
Expenditure $33.3 Mill $226.4 Mill $189.9 Mill $450 Mill

The total annual visitor expenditure for all overnight visitors over the 2012-14 reference period was $5,100 million and expenditure by overnight visitors who bushwalk represents around 8% of total overnight visitor expenditures for the State.

While not all of the expenditure can be attributed to the direct influence of bushwalking as an activity (in most cases walking will be an ancillary activity) the data demonstrates the importance of bushwalking as a component of the benefits sought by visitors and suggests that walking should be prominently positioned within a broader nature based tourism strategy.

It is anticipated that significant infrastructure such as the Heysen Trail will be recognised and appropriately supported through tourism product development under the State’s nature based tourism strategy.

The understanding of the impact of walking would benefit from further analysis of TRA data and surveys of walkers in SA. Questions to be considered include:

  • What are the characteristics of walkers in South Australia?
  • What are the key motivations for walkers in South Australia?
  • What trails / regions are most attractive? Why?
  • What is the economic impact of walking in regions?
  • What is the value of tourism based on those visitors who travel primarily to walk?
  • What should be the product development priorities to attract more visitors interested in walking?

This article originally appeared on Greenhill Research and Planning’s blog and is reproduced here with permission.

[1] Tourism Research Australia. Travel by Australians. International Visitors in Australia. SA Tourism Commission. South Australian Tourism Profile.

[2] Daytrip is defined as: Non routine round trip of at least 50 KMs and 4 hours away from home.

[3] Visiting Friends and Relatives