05/08/2010 - 00:00

Kennett warns against chasing big events

05/08/2010 - 00:00

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FORMER Victorian premier Jeff Kennett believes it would be a waste of time and money for the Western Australian government to chase major events, following last week’s cancellation of the Red Bull Air Race.

Kennett warns against chasing big events

FORMER Victorian premier Jeff Kennett believes it would be a waste of time and money for the Western Australian government to chase major events, following last week’s cancellation of the Red Bull Air Race.

Mr Kennett told WA Business News he had been in recent discussions with the state government and private organisations in WA about “tourism, the tourism portfolio and the board”.

And while sympathetic over Red Bull’s cancellation, he suggested it wasn’t the end of the world.

“Western Australia, because it does not have a large suite of major sporting events as we do here in Melbourne as we started so much earlier, it’s almost a waste of time trying to establish a suite of events,” Mr Kennett said.

“Most major events have been settled and the only way to get them would be to pay exorbitant amounts of money and if that included public monies it could easily be argued that it was simply not warranted and too expensive.”

Last week, Tourism WA chair Kate Lamont said she was confident a replacement event of the same calibre of the air race would be secured in the coming months.

“We’ve got a dual strategy going: one is to bring big hallmark events to Western Australia that West Australians love but also to be developing local events that ... will become of the significance and will in fact one day be a hallmark event,” she said.

However, Mr Kennett advised relevant WA tourism bodies differently.

“What Western Australia has to do, in the discussions that I have, is look for the next range of activities that gives them a point of difference they can invest in over the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years that will produce for Western Australia an asset or point of difference which will become not only renowned throughout Australia, but has the opportunity of becoming renowned throughout the world, and that is possible,” he said.

Mr Kennett disagreed with criticism last week from Australian Hotels Association (WA) executive director, Bradley Woods that Tourism WA had been “navel gazing” in recent years having failed to secure or develop hallmark events akin to the air race.

He warned against competing with other states, some of which have considerably larger events budgets and already have well-established events calendars such as Victoria, Queensland and even Tasmania.

“It’s something you have to build up, you can’t just import it and establish it,” Mr Kennett said.

Tourism Council WA president Paul King and TCWA chief executive Graham Moss both welcomed discussions with Mr Kennett, suggesting he secured some of the greatest events for Victoria during his time as premier.

 

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