Call for more tourism funds

THE WA tourism industry’s new representative body has wasted no time in calling for more public funding to market the State as a destination for travellers.

Created after the financial failure of Tourism Council Australia, the new Tourism Council of WA has called on the State Government to boost tourism marketing expenditure.

Acknowledging the State Government was looking for ways to cut expenditure, TCWA president Laurie O’Meare said a “marketing, marketing, marketing” policy was the only way to promote WA’s $4 billion tourist sector.

“Given that the budget is for marketing the state, and we’re a very big state, and for us to be receiving less in the marketing budget than Tasmania, for example, really is not reasonable,” he said.

“I think its true to say that, compared with the other states and territories, the money put into marketing WA does not compare well.

“What we’ll be looking to see is an absolute minimal reduction in marketing dollars.”

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) president Michael Monahan also used the Tasmanian example when calling for more funding for tourism.

Tasmania has less than 500,000 people, yet its 1999-2000 tourism budget was $30 million, compared with WA’s $28 million.

However, the WA Government claims that $8 million of the Tasmanian budget comes from a wholesale tourism packages arm of the Tasmanian Government.

The tourism industry in WA employs up to 8.7 per cent of the workforce and contributed a revenue of $4.16 billion dollars last financial year.

Despite this importance to the State, it seems unlikely that any increase in the tourism budget will be forthcoming, as the Government tightens the fiscal screws on all departments; cutting the number of ministers from 17 to 14 and asking all state government agencies to provide a dividend of 1.5 per cent of their gross operating expenses this year.

That means one of the primary purposes of the new Tourism Council of Western Australia, to lobby the Government for more funding, will, it seems have to be put on the backburner for the time being.

According to the minister Mr Brown, both the government and the council will simply have to make the dollar stretch that little bit further.

“In all of this we have to keep in mind the primary purpose of the council and indeed the commission is for the proper allocation of tax payers funds for industry development purposes,” WA Tourism Minister Clive Brown said.

“The test for all of us is to use those funds for the broadest possible benefit of the industry – recognising the importance of also creating business and employment opportunities in regional Western Australia.”

A downturn in the Asian market and membership, along with some poor decisions by management, caused the demise of the Sydney-based Tourism Council Australia early last year.

Mr O’Meare cites too much dependence on trade shows as another major revenue earner as another important factor in the bodies demise.

It was the collapse of the Tourism Council Australia that prompted he and several other hitters in the tourism industry to start their own body to represent the WA industry.

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