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ACCESS Economics co-founder Geoff Carmody’s assessment of the impact of the global economic crisis on the state’s tourism industry made for some pretty sobering reading. A declining discretionary spend means fewer inbound tourists, but alongside that we’re likely to see a drop in outbound travel and more Western Australians taking holidays within the state. Cheaper fuel should go a long way towards making self-drive holidays more accessible. But the bad is likely to outweigh the good, and this means some operators are going to find it tough for a while. A number of them might go to the wall. Mr Carmody’s investment message to the sector is that it’s time to batten down the hatches and improve on existing product offerings. Refurbish, renovate, look to improve your existing offering, but don’t even think about adding capacity. The worst is yet to come. That advice was questioned by some in the industry; in a state plagued by chronic approval and construction delays and long lead times, should we be telling people to pull their expansion plans or plans for new capacity? Tourism WA chief Richard Muirhead believes developers should keep a focus on new capacity, adding the government can do its bit by getting to work on regional infrastructure to support the tourism industry and regional communities.

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