WA tourism figures show more visitors but less money despite multi-million-dollar campaign

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January 09, 2019 16:55:13

More tourists are visiting Western Australia, but despite a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign, the tourism industry is still struggling to get them to stay longer and convince international visitors to spend more money, new figures show.

Key points:

  • Total visitor spend in WA is down $166m in the year to September 2018
  • More visitors are coming to the state, but they are spending less
  • WA faces a tough task, competing for tourists against the entire eastern states

In the 12 months from September 2017 to September 2018, the number of international visitors to the state marginally increased by 6,000, representing a 0.6 per cent year-on-year rise.

But despite this overall growth in visitor numbers, the total amount of money they spent in WA fell by $166 million, or 6.8 per cent.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia told ABC Radio Perth much of the blame for that fall in spending could be attributed to a drop in accommodation prices in the state.

He said in years gone by accommodation made up a much larger portion of a visitor’s overall spend.

But he said the fall in hotel prices would make the state attractive and help remove the pricy reputation WA earned during the mining boom.

“People will remember during the boom you couldn’t get a hotel for love or money, it was very expensive,” he said.

“There wasn’t really a leisure market, people who were travelling were business travellers associated with the boom. After that we’re trying to grow a market really.”

Mr Papalia said the previous Liberal government had neglected tourism during the boom and WA was still recovering.

But Opposition tourism spokeswoman Libby Mettam said it was time the Government took responsibility for the performance of the tourism sector.

“The McGowan Government has to stop blaming the previous government for its poor performance in tourism,” she said.

“We have seen the most significant decline ever recorded in international visitor expenditure under their watch.

“We’re the only state to experience such a decline when there is a boom across the country.”

A choice between two markets

Despite hotels becoming more affordable, the tourism data showed both interstate and international visitors were choosing to spend fewer nights in the state.

For international visitors, the number of nights spent in WA dropped by 5.3 per cent, while for interstate visitors it dropped by 8.4 per cent.

But interstate visitors brought in more money to WA than the previous year, with visitor expenditure rising 7.8 per cent and the total number of interstate visitors growing 8.8 per cent.

Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said the disparity in growth and decline of spending between international and interstate visitors showed Tourism WA was struggling to balance a limited budget.

“The real challenge that we have is that Tourism WA’s marketing budget isn’t enough to grow visitation from both the interstate and the international markets,” he said.

“While their marketing has been quite effective in the interstate [market], and we’ve clawed back some of the losses there, we simply don’t have enough funding to be effectively marketing into Germany and the UK, Singapore and Malaysia.

“Every time we try and boost one market it comes at the expense of another.”

WA vs the eastern states

Mr Hall said he would like to see the Government commit more funding to tourism and warned WA was being outpaced by tourism campaigns coming out of the eastern states, a point on which Mr Papalia agreed.

“Well I’m not surprised that Evan Hall and the Tourism Council are asking for more funding for tourism, that’s a good thing. They’re the advocates for the industry and they always do that,” he said.

“But what he’s saying is that we’re being outspent by the eastern states and that’s true.

“We’re essentially one market, up against another market which is the entire eastern seaboard, and we’re never going to match them.

“If anyone flies to Sydney they’re very likely to go up and down the eastern seaboard.”

Mr Papalia said WA would likely never outspend the combined east coast tourism budgets, but Tourism WA was working on targeted campaigns to set WA apart from the other states.

“We’ve got to be very clever and targeted and focused on trying to drive visitors to Western Australia as their first point of entry rather than to the eastern states, because very seldom will they go to both sides,” he said.

Tourism WA managing director Brodie Carr said there were positives to take from the latest visitor survey results but they also indicated work was still needed.

“We’re really happy with the total number of people and the growth in the numbers of people who are coming, we need to focus on getting them to stay longer and to spend more,” he said.

“But we need to be careful, we need to make sure these trends are quarter, on quarter, on quarter, so they’re a long term trend and it’s not just a spike.”

Mr Papalia said the international tourism marketing effort had been boosted by locking in direct flights from Perth to London and the launching of All Nippon Airways flights from Perth to Tokyo from September.

He said establishing direct flights from Perth to Shanghai and cities within India were next on the list.

Topics:

tourism,

travel-and-tourism,

perth-6000,

wa



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