Re­gion could be bea­con of light

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - Taelor Pelusey and Kent Acott

Vasse MLA and shadow tourism min­is­ter Libby Met­tam says the Mar­garet River re­gion could be a bea­con of hope for the State’s strug­gling tourism in­dus­try as the lat­est fig­ures show WA is the blight on an other­wise ro­bust na­tional sec­tor.

The lat­est tourism fig­ures, to be re­leased to­day show a one per cent in­crease in in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors to WA in the year to the end of Septem­ber.

This pales against growth in other States, in­clud­ing Tas­ma­nia (up 15 per cent), NSW (up 6 per cent) and Queens­land (up 5 per cent).

The State’s over­seas vis­i­tors spent $166 mil­lion less than they did a year ago, and de­spite im­prove­ments in in­ter­state and in­trastate num­bers, the Tourism Coun­cil WA says more than 1200 jobs have been lost be­cause dozens of tourism-re­lated busi­nesses have been forced to close or re­duce staff.

Ms Met­tam said WA con­tin­ued to fight for its mar­ket share, and the Gov­ern­ment needed to play to the State’s strengths.

“Mar­garet River is an es­tab­lished global brand with world-class wine and food and events in­clud­ing the Mar­garet River Gourmet Es­cape and Mar­garet River Pro, and the re­gion con­tin­ues to at­tract vis­i­tors for our out­stand­ing beaches, nat­u­ral at­trac­tions, and di­verse tourism of­fer­ings,” she said.

“The McGowan Gov­ern­ment must ac­cept that vis­i­tors are at­tracted to the Mar­garet River brand and show some real com­mit­ment to the tourism in­dus­try.”

While in­ter­na­tional tourist spend­ing in WA de­clined by 7 per cent to $2.2 bil­lion, most other States had sig­nif­i­cant growth — Tas­ma­nia in­creased by 13 per cent, Queens­land jumped 12 per cent and NSW grew by 9 per cent.

On the flip­side, in­ter­state num- bers to WA grew by 8 per cent over the same pe­riod.

TCWA chief ex­ec­u­tive Evan Hall said this in­crease could be at­trib­uted to ef­fec­tive investment in in­ter­state mar­ket­ing, par­tic­u­larly with AFL tourism pack­ages.

But he said the Tourism WA bud­get was in­suf­fi­cient to cover both in­ter­na­tional and in­ter­state mar­kets and a tourism jobs growth fund needed to be es­tab­lished to halt the over­all de­cline and save jobs.

“The fund could be used to se­cure ma­jor draw­card events, at­tract in­ter­na­tional and na­tional busi­ness events, de­velop tourism busi­nesses, drive im­proved des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing and se­cure new in­ter­na­tional and in­ter­state avi­a­tion routes,” Mr Hall said.

“Such a fund would see WA keep pace with other States which are in­vest­ing more, ap­prov­ing new at­trac­tions and bring­ing in more vis­i­tors.”

New Tourism WA chief Brodie Carr said the over­all in­crease in tourism num­bers was pleas­ing but the growth needed to be more con­sis­tent over a longer pe­riod “be­fore we start cel­e­brat­ing”.

The new fig­ures show big falls in tourists from the US (down 13 per cent), Malaysia (down 10 per cent) and New Zealand (down 7 per cent) and im­prove­ments in num­bers from In­dia (up 11 per cent), Ja­pan (up 7 per cent) and Ger­many (up 7 per cent).

Tourism Coun­cil WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Evan Hall says the Tourism WA bud­get is in­suf­fi­cient to cover both in­ter­na­tional and in­ter­state mar­kets.

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