15/10/2008 - 22:00

Call for government action

15/10/2008 - 22:00

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WESTERN Australia's tourism industry has called on the new state government to fast-track tourism developments in the city and regional areas and help combat the labour shortage.

Call for government action

WESTERN Australia's tourism industry has called on the new state government to fast-track tourism developments in the city and regional areas and help combat the labour shortage.

One of the biggest issues outlined by the tourism operators contacted by Business Class was the need for extra accommodation in Perth and regional WA.

Edge Group hotel developer, Jon Jessop, said the industry critically needed new and updated accommodation.

He said current developments were being stalled by over-regulation and restrictions on the use of strata-titled properties, while finding suitable development sites was also an issue.

Mr Jessop said a group of 24 developers in WA had calculated that about $3 billion worth of tourism developments were stalled because of these issues.

"All of these issues and more result in developments never getting off the ground, developers being delayed and frustrated with lack of government understanding, and purchasers of strata apartments finding it difficult to get funding for their investments because of complicated and restricted uses," he said.

"Developers, in the end, have lack of, or nil profit, and leave the tourism accommodation development industry to move into residential or commercial developments."

Perth Convention Bureau managing director Christie McLean said additional hotel capacity in the city would be welcome.

In the past month, three significant conventions were considering, or had already, withdrawn their business from WA, she said, citing expensive hotel room costs, and/or high on-the-ground costs as a mitigating factor.

"This is an issue for us as a destination that has previously maximised our opportunity to attract national and international business based on cheaper 'destination' costs," Ms McLean said.

"Additional hotel infrastructure would be welcome, however it is unlikely that this will eventuate while commercial office space continues to provide a better return on investment. State government incentives could be offered to potential investors."

Tourism Council of WA chief executive Graham Moss recommended the government appoint a Tourism Development Coordinator, who would report directly to the premier, to facilitate a whole-of-government approach to tourism developments.

"[This would] streamline bureaucratic processes to ensure tourism projects are commenced and completed in a timely fashion," he said.

Another key issue is the labour shortage, with calls for the government to adjust the conditions of working visas to fit with the needs of the tourism and hospitality industries.

Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association chair Rachel House said the government needed to assist with finding a solution to the hospitality industry's skilled and skilled labour shortage, with cleaners and chefs particularly hard to find.

The environmental impact of travel is also becoming a major issue for business events, according to Ms McLean.

She said that, for international organisations, environmental considerations would affect the decision as to where a conference should be held.

"For WA, our main target for international association conferences in Europe, so it's important to us as a destination that we are able to articulate a strong but persuasive environmental policy," Ms McLean said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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