Demons diehards pump ‘mil­lions into econ­omy’

The West Australian - - AFL FINALS - Rourke Walsh, Rob Scott and Aaron Lang­maid

WA’s hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor is gear­ing up for a fi­nals foot­ball boom with thou­sands of in­ter­state Mel­bourne Demons sup­port­ers to de­scend on Perth for Satur­day’s block­buster pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal against the West Coast Ea­gles.

The Aus­tralian Ho­tels As­so­ci­a­tion ex­pects in­ter­state vis­i­tors for the match will in­ject up to $5 mil­lion into the State’s econ­omy.

AHA WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Bradley Woods yes­ter­day praised the Satur­day af­ter­noon times­lot, say­ing it would boost flow-on busi­ness in­clud­ing at city bars and restau­rants post-match.

“Hav­ing an af­ter­noon pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal in Perth for the Ea­gles is rare,” he said.

“It presents a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for ac­com­mo­da­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity venues.

“One of the rea­sons the new sta­dium was built was to ac­com­mo­date more in­ter­state vis­i­tors who wished to see games live in Perth.

“The Satur­day game is ideal be­cause it means that peo­ple are not just try­ing to get in and out in one day, they are stay­ing over a cou­ple nights.

“There is also much greater op­por­tu­nity for crowds to dis­si­pate into the broader ar­eas to eat out and drink out af­ter the game.”

Mr Woods said the es­ti­mated cash in­jec­tion was based on about 5000 in­ter­state vis­i­tors.

He said ad­vanced book­ings showed more than 50 per cent of ho­tel reser­va­tions con­nected with the game were for at least two nights.

“The Satur­day games and par­tic­u­larly the day games are ideal for what will boost the lo­cal econ­omy,” he said.

“There is a broad view that we need to do more, and the State Gov­ern­ment has cer­tainly put its view for­ward to the AFL around try­ing to se­cure bet­ter times.”

WA Tourism Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia said given the AFL did not con­trib­ute to the cost of build­ing the $1.8 bil­lion Op­tus Sta­dium, it should sched­ule games in prefer­able times­lots.

“The AFL got a re­ally good deal out of the sta­dium,” he said.

“We get a raw deal in most things like the GST, they could at least help us out with the fix­tures and get more vis­i­tors from in­ter­state to come to our games.”

The cost of flights from Mel­bourne to Perth for the game rose dra­mat­i­cally at the week­end af­ter the Demons beat Hawthorn Hawks in Fri­day night’s elim­i­na­tion semi­fi­nal.

The cheap­est di­rect re­turn flights avail­able late yes­ter­day through bud­get air­lines Jet­star and Tiger cost al­most $1400.

Other op­tions in­clud­ing con­nec­tions through Ho­bart, Syd­ney and

Ade­laide, adding up to 15 hours to the trip each way, were on sale for at least $900.

Vir­gin Aus­tralia con­firmed yes­ter­day that it had added a flight to leave Mel­bourne on Satur­day morn­ing and it would re­view the need for more flights based on de­mand.

“Vir­gin Aus­tralia is al­ways look­ing at ways to max­imise the op­por­tu­nity for AFL fans to at­tend their team’s games across the coun­try,” a spokes­woman said.

“We’re de­lighted to be pro­vid­ing Mel­bourne Demons’ fans with an ad­di­tional re­turn flight to Perth.”

De­voted Demons fans An­drew Pettman and his mother Shirley are among the le­gion of Mel­bourne sup­port­ers who have taken the ex­treme mea­sure of fly­ing over­seas to catch a con­nect­ing flight to WA.

The 31-year-old and Mrs Pettman have forked out $1000 each for a re­turn trip which will take them to Sin­ga­pore.

They will leave the coun­try on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, spend­ing a day in Sin­ga­pore, be­fore board­ing the flight to Perth on Fri­day night.

“We were look­ing at spend­ing about $800 for di­rect flights last week, so I thought if we are go­ing to spend that much, we might as well turn it into a mini­hol­i­day,” Mr Pettman said.

“We have been there for the bad times, so we hope to be there when they go all the way. It will be a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The De­mon Army cheer squad co-or­di­na­tor Suzanne Con­fi­dine said Mel­bourne fans would be up against it in a packed sta­dium of over­whelm­ingly West Coast sup­port­ers but they would do their best to get their team over the line.

Pic­ture: News Corp

Shirley and An­drew Pettman with their plane tick­ets.

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