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Vibrant industry handed backpacker budget

THE State Budget was a disappointing result for the WA tourism industry, says Tourism Council Australia branch manager Brian Hearne.

He said the current level of recurrent funding to the WA Tourism Commission was inadequate.

“At a time when there is ample evidence to suggest that the farming and mining industries continue to shed employment, the tourism industry is offering employment to more than 70,000 people in many regional areas,” he said.

“Surprisingly, tourism is not recognised as an industry in the state’s accounts so measuring the industry contribution to the economy and the impact of policy decisions on tourism activity is difficult.

“With tourism generating receipts of $2.1 billion and contributing an estimated 4 per cent to the state’s GDP, it is time the government treated the industry seriously and followed the Commonwealth Government’s lead by developing a tourism satellite account linked to state accounts.

“Data from the account will allow the WATC to develop marketing strategies and measure the results based on solid economic research in terms of growth, jobs and export earnings. At the moment, they’re only measuring activity,” Mr Hearne said.

Tourism minister Norman Moore said there had been a cut in the WA tourism budget of $1.6 million due to general pressure on the State Budget.

The bulk of the cut applied to a planned $1 million increase in the funding of the Tourism Develop-ment Fund.

The fund was due to get $2 million a year for the next two years, but this would now not happen until 2001.

Funding for EventsCorp had also been cut by $250,000.

EventsCorp general manager Linda Wayman said the cuts had already spelt the end of at least one major event.

“While I don’t doubt the government recognises the importance of events upon the tourism industry, these cuts have reduced our options in terms of bringing another major event to Perth,” she said. “Rally Australia has lost about $10,000 and triathalons have lost the same.

“But in many ways, we’re lucky to have gotten away with as much as we have. While we are in the bottom three or four portfolios that were dealt serious cuts, they could have taken much more,” she said.

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