Why quokka selfies aren’t the only part of WA’s tourism strategy

Mar 31, 2019 0 comment(s)
If we had to pay quokkas for their contribution to promoting WA, the State Government could not afford it.

Our celebrity-magnet quokkas have certainly helped drive visitors to Rottnest Island, but that isn’t the only part of the State attracting tourists.

The latest Tourism Research Australia data shows visitor numbers are growing.

And released today, the International Visitor Statistics show international visitors are growing at 2.1 per cent and international holiday makers have a booming growth rate of 12.6 per cent — the highest increase in the nation.

But this positive trend cannot be attributed to quokka selfies, a new stadium or luck, it is because we have a plan in place for tourism the likes of which have not been seen in WA before.

Until recently, tourism wasn’t considered a serious industry in WA. The McGowan Government made tourism mainstream.

In March 2018, we launched a two-year plan involving the Government, industry peak bodies and key tourism sector players. It prioritises getting visitors from outside the State to come to WA.

It acknowledges that WA gets little from national campaigns. WA must be marketed as the western gateway to the nation, a destination in its own right.

Part of this means attracting more direct international flights from important new markets such as Japan, China and India.

The plan aims to erase our bad reputation (acquired during the mining boom) for being expensive and poor quality.

WA’s hotels are now the best quality and most affordable in the nation and we have re-established an east coast marketing office to run continuous campaigns selling that message.

Despite a massive 3000 room increase in hotel capacity in the past few years, our State’s average hotel occupancy remains around 77 per cent. Today we are filling more hotel rooms than ever before.

It targets cruising, delivers affordable flights, sells WA as the Road Trip State, and champions Aboriginal cultural tourism.

Cruising is a massive growth industry around the world and the third part of the plan aims to put WA at the centre of that growth.

The McGowan Government has dedicated millions of dollars in beautifying the Fremantle passenger terminal and improving berthing facilities at Geraldton.

Later this year, millions more will be invested in dredging Broome Harbour to give 24/7 access.

As a result, next year WA cruising will see a 100 per cent increase in cruising days.

Our vast distances and sparse population have traditionally been viewed as a serious impediment to growing regional tourism.

Long drives or expensive airfares presented real barriers to getting tourists out of Perth and into our magnificent regions.

The fourth part of the plan brings a focus on tackling these challenges by building affordable flights and selling WA as the Road Trip State.

Visitors and locals can now book early and get affordable flights to Esperance, Albany, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon and Broome, and we are continuing discussions with airlines to expand affordable flights to other regional destinations.

At the same time as we are working on airfares, the Road Trip State campaign is turning our long distances and low population into a positive attraction. It looks to be working, too, with the most recent data showing a big rise in visitors to all of our regions.

The final piece of the plan is a focus on boosting Aboriginal cultural tourism.

Our rich and diverse Aboriginal culture represents a great opportunity to differentiate the State.

Tourism WA is currently working with the WA Indigenous Tourism Operators Council to create a dedicated plan for this part of the sector.

A year in, the plan is working.

We look forward to visitor numbers growing and, in turn, creating more jobs in tourism and hospitality.

Source: The West Australian

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