WESTERN Australia’s tourism operators are concerned they will lose out on lucrative business because two of the State’s key events are under a cloud amid increasing competition from New South Wales and Victoria.
Australian Hotels Association executive director Bradley Woods said if the threats to Rally Australia or the Hopman Cup eventuated then WA had a big problem.
“If we do suffer a disappearance of these events then we have to do a lot of work very quickly,” he said.
“What we have to do in WA is find out what we’re good at and maximise it. There’s no point in trying to compete on some of the events that are already duplicated around Australia.”
WA Tourism Council president Manny Papadoulis said WA’s events industry was in trouble and would be in an even worse position if either Rally Australia or the Hopman Cup left the State.
He said it was important for the State’s reputation that WA held onto Rally Australia.
“We have to show that we are a State that can attract and keep events,” Mr Papadoulis said.
Event tourism is expected to inject around $50 million into the WA economy this year.
Rally Australia is under threat of being moved to Kenya and the future of the Hopman Cup is under a cloud following a proposal to play the Australian Open later in the year.
Victoria is understood to have a $40 million budget for attracting events and aggressively seeks them out. Indeed, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks once said that he had tried to have the Sydney to Hobart yacht race moved to Melbourne.
The New South Wales Government is conducting a review to work out the best way to use its facilities, especially those used to host the 2000 Olympic Games.
EventsCorp’s 2002-03 base budget is $9.6 million and will rise to just under $12 million in 2003-04.
However, the Government is leading the fight to retain Rally Australia.
It has also assured the State’s tourism industry that the $4.5 million that would normally go towards hosting the event will be kept available to try and attract other events, should the race go elsewhere.
Mr Papadoulis said that WA should try and create inter-national events that could only be run here.
“The Rottnest Island swim would make a great inter-national event,” Mr Papadoulis said.
“The Leeuwin concert, in effect, has become an international event.”
An EventsCorp spokes-woman said the Government was working with stakeholders to keep Rally Australia in WA.
“We can only wait and see what happens with the Australian Open but we’ve secured Burswood as the venue for the Hopman Cup for the next three years,” she said.
“We’ve also signed the Perth International Golf Classic for the next three years.”
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