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Local focus for tourism as new carrier prepares for take-off

LOCAL tourism authorities expect intrastate tourism to continue to strengthen despite the launch of new air carrier Air Paradise International.

The Indonesian-based carrier will begin servicing four flights a week from Perth to Denpasar from September, which could bring discounted prices to the route.

The new operator owns a string of hotels and restaurants in Bali and is looking to get tourism numbers back up to the island playground.

Western Australian Tourism Commission chief executive officer Richard Muirhead said while Bali was a major competitor for the tourist dollar, he didn’t expect it to heavily affect intrastate tourism.

“We had a 9.5 per cent growth on the previous year of intrastate tourists,” he said.

“After September 11 some people changed their travel patterns and we also started advertising with the $100 million sale during November, which further stimulated that activity.

“Intrastate tourism makes up 81 per cent of our figures and is responsible for 50 per cent of the total revenue, some $2.1 billion.”

Tourism Council of WA president Manny Papadoulis said that, for WA to compete against Bali, it needed to position its products.

“Any new product in the marketplace of value that can be compared to going to Broome for three or four days will have an effect,” Mr Papadoulis said.

“The only way places like Exmouth, Albany and Broome can compete is by selling a more relaxed atmosphere. You can’t compete on price you need to promote the product.”

Chairperson of the Kimberley Aviation and Tourism Strategy Committee Ron Johnson said one of the problems for local tourism was the dollar-for-dollar comparison.

“What people consider when they look at Bali ads is they look at the price leaders. People never compare apples with apples,” he said.

“They look at the best fare to Bali against the standard fare to Broome.”

Mr Johnson said tourists were returning to the Kimberley region and did not think Air Paradise International would affect tourist numbers to the region.

“There has been a dramatic rise in tourist numbers. Qantas are making more seats available,” he said.

“The numbers by June will have matched the numbers that were here last year and by July they will exceed those numbers.”

Great Southern Tourism Association marketing director David O’Malley said international travel had and would always be hard to compete with because of the perceived and real benefits of international travel.

“In Margaret River or Albany you can’t get away from the office and people like the idea of going overseas,” he said.

WATC commercials promoting the Kimberley, one of five campaigns promoting intrastate tourism, will be rolled out later this year.

“We are quite different and our ads are pushing that your dollar is worth a dollar and there are no immigration hassles and we have the best wine and the best beaches,” Mr Muirhead said.

‘We welcome competition. Let’s not stick our heads in the sand about this.

“Trade gets trade.

“We are always screaming for new airlines, just because this one services a main competitor shouldn’t matter.”

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