AFL boost to tourism

PUSH FOR GAMES AND CHEAP FARES

The Sunday Times - - News - JOE SPAGNOLO Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

PREMIER Mark McGowan has told the AFL he wants more week­night and Satur­day block­busters in Perth next sea­son to cash in on the pop­u­lar­ity of Op­tus Sta­dium.

It comes as Mel­bourne fans were last night de­mand­ing Vir­gin Aus­tralia put on ex­tra flights and of­fer more af­ford­able tick­ets to Perth for Satur­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against West Coast.

In a let­ter to AFL boss Gil­lon McLach­lan, Mr McGowan said Sun­day games did not en­cour­age re­gional and in­ter­state fans to stay in Perth.

“In 2018, the ma­jor­ity of fix­tures were for a Sun­day af­ter­noon and although this may sup­port broad­cast, it lim­its op­por­tu­ni­ties for fans to visit WA to see their team play,” Mr McGowan wrote.

“A Sun­day af­ter­noon game hin­ders my Gov­ern­ment’s AFL tourism strat­egy to en­cour­age in­ter­state visi­ta­tion to Perth.

“Ear­lier matches will cre­ate more pack­ag­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­ter­me­di­aries, in­clud­ing AFL travel, by pro­vid­ing in­creased length-of-stay out­comes as well as re­gional dis­per­sal.”

For the 2018 sea­son, the Gov­ern­ment re­quested no week­night games be­fore the end of June be­cause the Mata­garup Bridge was not fin­ished.

West Coast played just one Thurs­day night match dur­ing the home-and-away sea­son, as well as one Satur­day game and two Satur­day night fix­tures.

Fre­man­tle played once on Satur­day af­ter­noon and three times on Satur­day nights.

Mr McLach­lan said yes­ter­day the com­ple­tion of the foot­bridge meant Thurs­day and Fri­day night footy in Perth be­came more pos­si­ble.

“For the fix­ture in 2019, we are look­ing for­ward to the fact that the com­ple­tion of the pedes­trian foot­bridge now en­ables us to sched­ule into Thurs­day and Fri­day night matches next year,” he said.

“It is worth not­ing that our abil­ity to sched­ule the West Coast Ea­gles and Fre­man­tle Foot­ball Club on Thurs­day and Fri­day night matches will be in­flu­enced by our var­i­ous fix­tur­ing con­straints, in par­tic­u­lar the need to sched­ule the best match of the round on Fri­day night — as per our broad­cast rights ar­range­ments — and the need to min­imise the num­ber of six-day breaks the two clubs have dur­ing the year.”

Tourism Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia said he be­lieved Fri­day night and Satur­day games meant more peo­ple would travel to Perth for the foot­ball — and stay the week­end.

Satur­day’s pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal is ex­pected to pump $17 mil­lion into the lo­cal econ­omy, but there are con­cerns ex­pen­sive flights could put off some De­mons fans from mak­ing the trip west.

A one-way flight from Mel­bourne to Perth via Bali with Jet­star and Air Asia was sell­ing for $596 yes­ter­day, with di­rect flights to Perth cost­ing as much as $1510 one-way or $2738 re­turn on Vir­gin Aus­tralia.

A Vir­gin Aus­tralia spokes­woman said the air­line was mon­i­tor­ing de­mand and would con­sider adding flights this week.

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