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What a wonderful State

ALL of us have at some time or another felt that we live in a State that rivals paradise, here in WA. Interestingly it is not just us who feel that way.

Since 1997, WA has ranked No.1 for international visitors’ median length of stay compared to the other states and territories in Australia.

On average visitors on holiday stay for 7.3 nights while travellers visiting friends and relatives stay 15 nights, business travellers stay 4.7 nights and all other visitors stay about 20 nights. But on their own these figures mean little.

However, in 1998-1999 we had 511,000 international visitor arrivals, up 5.4 per cent from the previous 12 months.

Include our esteemed friends from the US navy and the numbers of visitors swell to 533,000. Not surprisingly, the number of visitors from Singa-pore, Malaysia and Indonesia declined by around 19,000 in 1998-99.

This was no doubt a legacy of the Asian economic crisis from the previous 18 months.

This was not an issue for us as it was offset by an increase of 24,000 visitors from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.

Visitor numbers from Hong Kong rose by 73 per cent in that year.

The numbers also of course translate into substantial gains for us here in WA in regard to the amount of money are spent by the visitors.

The visitors to our shores in 1999 spent a record $856 million. The British were the most voluminous in visitor num-bers and spent $157 million.

The Singaporeans did not come here in the droves they had in previous years. Nevertheless they spent $177 million.

In 2000, numbers of Japanese visitors to our shores were expected to show a substantial increase.

The WA government had undertaken a substantial marketing exercise in Tokyo and Osaka during 1999. Already the Japanese were spending about $108 million — in the previous year.

While the numbers are im-pressive, the main thing we can glean from them is the fact that the tourist industry is an integral part of our economic landscape.

Whether the Elle commercials are appropriate or not is some-thing for the market to decide.

The important thing is that we need to do all we can to attract as many new visitors to our shores as we can.

The spending patterns of our visitors are impressive at the very least.

The biggest fear that analysts have is that based on past experience, that governments tend to view these industries as something of a cash cow to be taxed at maximum levels in order to generate further rev-enue.

Instead of providing assistance and nurturing, these industries do tend to get hit from pillar to post.

We hope that with the Aust-ralian dollar exchange rate, making a visit here very attract-ive to overseas visitors and that our governments do not jeo-pardise the industry.

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