Regional Arts Australia: Cultural Tourism Accelerator Program 21/22 Research Report
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Regional Arts Australia: Cultural Tourism Accelerator Program 21/22 Research Report

In November 2021, the Australian Government announced the Cultural Tourism Accelerator Program as part of its Regional Arts Tourism package.

Delivered by Regional Arts Australia, the $5 million program sought to increase tourism visitation in regional, rural, and remote communities by providing financial support for arts and cultural activity. The program offered four grant categories, focusing on marketing or development of new initiatives:

  • Flash Marketing Campaign ($2,500): A competitive quick response grant for upcoming projects to extend digital or grassroots marketing into a new visitor market.
  • Targeted Marketing Campaign ($10,000): A strategic and targeted marketing campaign to achieve a particular visitation outcome. The campaign accompanied an existing project, event, festival, venue or annual program.
  • Experience Initiative ($10,000): An initiative that adds an offer or experience to an existing program, to increase visitation or extend the visitor experience of ‘place’.
  • Partnership Initiative ($15,000): An initiative that develops a partnership with hospitality, accommodation, retail or events businesses to increase visitation and develop cross markets.

Culture Counts partnered with Regional Arts Australia to evaluate and conduct an economic impact analysis of the program and activities it supported.

“The direct economic impact generated by attendees surveyed was over $304.8 million – 60 times the total investment in the Cultural Tourism Accelerator Program.”
Regional Arts Australia Read Report
Regional Arts Australia Report Cover_827 x 1181 (1)


To calculate the economic impact of projects supported by the program, all grant recipients (with the exclusion of Flash Marketing Campaign) received a unique survey link to participate in the research and distribute to participants and attendees of their respective projects.

Previous studies have demonstrated general links between regional tourism and cultural activity, with many local governments now including cultural activities within their own economic development strategies.

Rather than seeking to provide generalised analysis, this research project sought to quantify the associated economic effects of the projects that received funding with more granular detail, as well as generate insights into the effectiveness of the funding program’s four main objectives:

  • Supporting place-based programs to increase visitation
  • Building consumer confidence and activating engagement
  • Driving engagement across communities and between regions
  • Supporting sector-led responses


Grant recipients were asked to distribute an attendee survey as part of their activities, collecting research data that will help quantify the economic impact of the full program; including insights into tourism, reasons for visitation and the importance of arts and cultural activity when choosing to travel. Each recipient was provided a unique survey link, specific to their event – meaning that responses could be analysed at an event level and then aggregated into larger cohorts.

Two survey options were made available – a short survey focusing on spending influence and demographic information, and a more detailed survey that included questions about attendees’ experiences.

Recipients that elected to utilise the longer survey were also given the opportunity to add a custom question of their own choice to the survey. Recipients were able to select the survey they felt most appropriate to them, as all data collected via the survey was also shared with the grant recipient.

Culture Counts set up a Project Hub page to manage the project – with grant recipients directed to the page to register their project, find out more information about the research, as well as access their respective survey links for their projects. Paper survey templates were also provided for those that wished to print surveys and enter the data manually.

Of the 236 surveys that were distributed, approximately one-third of projects elected to distribute the longer version of the survey (86 surveys), indicating their interest to utilise the data collected from the longer survey for their own purposes.

The captured results were collated, with the data aggregated and findings published in a public report. The report sought to quantify the economic impact of the program, to then assist governments and decision-makers to implement policies that support the funding of cultural activities in respect to their economic outcomes.

Project Summary

  • $3.52 million: total grants distributed
  • 321 grant recipients: Targeted Marketing Campaign (137), Experience Initiative (125) and Partnership Initiative (59)
  • 236 surveys distributed, with 8,199 responses received

The Cultural Tourism Accelerator Program had a wide reach across Australia. The following graphic highlights the distribution of grants and their projects across Australia. Using the Australian Statistical Geography Standard classification, the majority of evaluated projects were in areas either classified as ‘inner regional’ or ‘outer regional’ Australia.

Key Insights

An important aspect of event economic analysis is to consider the percentage of spend that would not have occurred if not for the activity. This is known as additionality. Events that received grant funding through the program reported approximately 1.23 million attendees, spending on average $376 each as part of their attendance. Culture Counts estimated that, on average, 72% of this spend would not have occurred, if not for the delivery of those events.

Four findings of the full report are highlighted below.

Economic Impact
The direct economic impact generated by attendees surveyed was over $304.8 million – 60 times the total investment in the Cultural Tourism Accelerator Program. The largest amount of impact was generated by events hosted in Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland.

New South Wales$9,697,432
Western Australia$60,815,016
Northern Territory$22,398,507
South Australia$28,855,291
A table depicting Direct Impact by State/Territory

Tourist Impact
Visitors contributed $255.5 million to the total expenditure impact, with Intrastate Visitors representing the largest portion of the evaluated impact.

Local Area657,470$9777%$49,370,307
Intrastate Visitors340,068$6712.077%$175,855,659
Interstate Visitors115,399$1,3414.344%$67,661,613
Overseas Visitors13,592$1,9036.646%$11,986,094
Impact Summary table highlighting combined attendee event and accommodation spending data.

New Visitors
70% of visitors said the event influenced their decision to travel to the area, with 54% saying it was their primary reason for being there. 29% of visitors said this trip represented the first-time that had ever travelled to the respective region or the local area of the event.

Event Outcomes
34% of surveys included a series of ‘dimension’ questions, asking respondents about their experience of the event they attended. Dimensions are standardised statements used to measure outcomes, developed by Culture Counts. Appropriate dimensions were chosen based on their alignment with the program’s objectives.

Key event outcome achievements included:

  • Connection: 88% of respondents said their event helped them feel connected to people in their community.
  • Enthusiasm: 97% of respondents said they would come to something like this again.
  • Meaning: 91% respondents said their event moved and inspired them.

For more information about the project, visit the Regional Arts Australia website.

Banner Image: Wafting, Sarah Cunningham Photography Exhibition: A Single Detail (SA). Image by Sarah Cunningham.

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