Published: May 06, 2019

Adelaide’s heritage is a fundamental component of the State’s unique culture and identity. 

The historic character of the past merges with the development and needs of the present and future, providing direct economic value when it comes to tourism. Research has shown that visitors pursuing heritage and cultural interests often stay twice as long as other visitors, with an average of 27% of total visitor spend in Adelaide CBD directly attributed to ‘cultural heritage’ related tourism, accounting for $375 million spent in 2013/2014[1].

The History Trust of South Australia’s History Festival, which runs throughout May, is one of South Australia's largest community events. The annual celebration of the State’s historic places and stories drew 139,000 event attendees in 2018 across 666 events, with nearly 35% of these events taking place in the CBD. As a major sponsor since the Festival’s inception, the City of Adelaide also facilitates a large range of events. In 2018, the City of Adelaide events drew nearly 5,000 visitors into the city who engaged in exhibitions, tours, talks and concerts. The appetite for heritage exploration continues throughout the year with over 10,000 people visiting the City of Adelaide’s History Walks webpage over the last year.

Significant landmarks and tourism destinations in the city are enriched through the iconic stories and built heritage of eras past. The South Australian Museum, established in 1847, is significant both in its architecture and ongoing commitment to holding national and internationally significant collections including the most extensive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural artefacts in the world. As one of the most visited museums in Australia, 2018 saw visitation increase by 30% upon the previous year to over one million guests. Twenty-two per cent of this historic high was comprised of international guests while 19 per cent came from interstate[2]. The iconic Adelaide Central Market has been a thriving hub of food and culture for 150 years. Established in 1869, the award-winning Market is visited by over nine million people each year, including 195,000 international tourists.     

As the world’s only city in a park, Adelaide’s City Layout and Park Lands are recognised on the National Heritage List due to its cultural significance as Australia’s first planned city. The picturesque Park Lands are enjoyed by over nine million members of the community each year and are also transformed into the playground for various world-class festivals and events, displaying the versatility of the sweeping grounds.  In 2018, 50 per cent of the Adelaide Fringe’s $19.4 million worth of ticket sales were made from the three major outdoor hubs, the Garden of Unearthly Delights in Rundle Park, Gluttony in Rymill Park and RCC Fringe which sprawled across the University of Adelaide while WOMADelaide in Botanic Park welcomed a crowd of over 90,000.

The City of Adelaide continues to support the conservation of heritage places through the Heritage Incentives Scheme which is the oldest scheme of its kind in Australia. Over the 30-years of its implementation, over $20 million has been invested to conserve heritage places, reaping a return of $1.68 for every dollar invested and creating over 3,000 jobs within South Australia.

[1] Economic Value of Heritage Tourism – Adelaide 2015 Consultant Report

[2] South Australian Museum Board 2017-18 Annual Report

Find out more about Tourism in Adelaide in the Visitor Economy Action Plan or discover current data using our interactive Tourism Dashboard