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AQWA aims to net tourist dollar

THE relaunched AQWA is looking to net the lucrative tourist dollar with their revamped underwater exhibition and a radical new marketing plan.

Following Underwater World's relaunch as AQWA, thousands of dollars have been spent on advertising for the Perth market, despite a planned push into the tourism market.

"The advertising spend is purely in the local market, because that's where we are losing market" AQWA marketing manager Gordon Hill said.

AQWA has struggled through a difficult year with big drops in attendance levels following the death of their star attractions, the dolphins.

Mr Hill has worked with AQWA since July 2000, during which time he has seen fairly major changes to the structure and staff at the aquarium, including a new general manager and a new curator and a complete rework of the marketing strategy.

Previously a Marketforce client, AQWA now uses several different suppliers to fulfil their marketing and advertising needs, including Creative Page, M3 Design and Pretty Pictures.

"We've put together our own small team, so we are our own account manager, which allows us to go directly to the creatives...and managing our own brand also works out much more economical," Mr Hill said.

"Because of a drop in our local market, we needed to fund a brand that will bring us into the twenty first century and we wanted to generate a bit of ownership loyalty.

"However, AQWA is marketed as the Aquarium of Western Australia in the international market, where the corporate identity is too culturally specific.

"Internationally, we rely on our good relationship with the WA Tourism Commission, the Australian Tourism Commission and inbound tour operators."

As part of the relaunch of AQWA, the facility has been split into different regions of Western Australia - guiding people through the coast.

"This is a way we can get the tourists back and it's a teaser for the WA coast, it shows the local diversity in our own backyard,"Mr Hill said.

AQWA has also launched a new eco-tourism arm with planned activities including diving and snorkelling with the seals and sharks, whale watching and sea kayaking over Ningaloo Reef.

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