Figures released today showing Australia’s international visitor numbers and spending highlighted growth on a national average, but Western Australia has fallen way behind.
WA’s visitor numbers fell by 18,000 people, or 1.8 per cent, attributing to a loss of a quarter of a billion dollars for the tourism sector.
Meanwhile every other stature recorded increases, significantly in Tasmania where visitor numbers were up by 21.3 per cent. Victoria had a 7.9 per cent increase, South Australia 6.6 per cent, New South Wales 5.9 per cent, and Queensland recording a 4.1 per cent increase.
Shadow Tourism Minister, Libby Mettam, said the tourism sector cannot sustain these losses.
“We need to see tourism front and centre, like McGowan had promised when in opposition,” she said.
Ms Mettam is calling on Premier Mark McGowan to acknowledge he made a poor decision for WA in rolling the Department of Tourism into a mega department.
She commented that every other state that put tourism into a mega department had reversed their decision, and McGowan needs to take lessons from these failed trials of a tourism junior portfolio.
“We can’t afford an ad-hoc approach in promoting tourism, we need a stand alone agency… We need one single minister overseeing that portfolio, instead of 5 ministers overseeing the funding…”
“The fact that we’ve seen drops in visitor spending just 3 months after coming into government, indicates it’s the policies of the McGowan government that aren’t working,” she said.
The opposition supports an approach to promoting Perth, plus regional WA, and hopes this will boost visitor numbers.
However, Nathan Harding Chairman of Tourism WA, defended the industry, saying there has been some strong growth as a result of the Government’s two year action plan.
“If we combine the international numbers with the strong east coast numbers overall WA has had 130,000 extra visitors over that year,” he said.
The opening of 6,000 general admission tickets, and 1,000 packages, for football games at Optus Stadium attracted tremendous results.
It was recorded that 66,000 people travelled interstate to Perth specifically for the purpose of AFL.
The next AFL season will see continued investment, with the objective to grow visitor numbers and also encourage them to spread further around the state on a road trip.