WA’s failure to boost international tourism spending in the past year has been partly attributed to a lack of promotional leadership and few direct flights from big markets such as Japan and China.
Figures from a federal government International Visitors’ Survey show 8.1 million overseas visitors spent a record $41.3 billion in Australia for the year ending December 2017 – an increase of six per cent on 2016.
WA was the only state to not record growth, which Tourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall concedes is “terrifying”.
“The most immediate problem is that we’re just not promoting ourselves as well as other states are and that’s been quite noticeable since there were major changes to Tourism WA,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
Mr Hall said there was no longer a full-time chief executive and even the head of marketing position had been vacant.
“The government’s very much made tourism a priority, but we think it’s absolutely critical that we bring in a skilled leader to take that organisation forward.”
But WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said Gwyn Dolphin was the tourism head for seven months of last year.
Tasmania’s 31 per cent growth in international spending was the best of any state and Mr Hall says that’s because Tasmania is good at branding itself and it allowed the industry to create attractions like MONA.
“We’ve got very few new attractions coming through … it’s really letting us down,” he said.
“I think a classic example is the stadium rooftop walk, which the last government decided not to do.”
Mr Hall said some of the potential experiences WA could create are wave parks, cable cars, zip lines across the river, and hot springs and wellness facilities by the river.
“We have this perpetual problem of saying ‘no’,” he said.
“We’re really offering the same thing that we’ve been offering for years and we’re not keeping up with other states that are creating great experiences.”
Mr Papalia partly blamed the previous government for the figures and said he was “pretty confident that we’ll get an uplift” in the next 12 months.
“While we cruised through the boom … every other state and territory was focused on diversifying the economy through building tourism,” he told 6PR radio.
“It takes time to build relationships and achieve new direct flights, which is the key to growing the market from international sources.”
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