AFL boost to tourism
PUSH FOR GAMES AND CHEAP FARES
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.