The Labor Government continues to ignore regional Western Australia’s tourism potential by turning its back on rural visitor centres to focus on Perth and Rottnest.
Tourism spokesman for The Nationals WA Vince Catania said the McGowan Government had little interest in leveraging local knowledge, services and opportunities offered by the visitor centre network to upsell regional tourism.
“We have heard bad news story after bad news story when it comes to the tourism industry in WA since Labor came to power,” Mr Catania said.
“Plummeting international visitation and spending, a vast drop in international students studying in WA and low employment growth in the sector are the stories making the headlines.
“Instead of posing for quokka selfies the Tourism Minister should be formulating a strategy to bring more people to regional WA and use our wonderful visitor centres to help inform and plan their trips.”
Mr Catania’s comments come after the Government announced the opening of Albany’s new visitor centre, which benefitted from the Royalties for Regions-funded Regional Visitor Centre Sustainability Grants Program.
The program was boosted by The Nationals in government through a $4.2 million Royalties for Regions injection over three years, beginning in 2015.
Despite the proven success of this program the Labor Government has failed to provide any ongoing funding to regional visitor centres.
Mr Catania said neither the Minister nor the State Government had a vision for developing the tourism industry outside of Perth.
“The Minister is happy to spruik the $117 million contribution visitor centres make to our economy each year and the 900 jobs they provide,” he said.
“Yet he has shown utter contempt for their continued success by refusing to fund the sustainability grants program any further.”
Other funding programs assisting the tourism sector such as the Regional Tourism Marketing Campaign and the Caravan and Camping initiative have also been de-funded.
“With the future of the Margaret River Pro – one of the highest profile international events in WA – looking shaky, the Minister should be doing everything in his power to lure people out of the city to visit regional WA,” Mr Catania said
“Empowering regional visitor centres to expand and develop their core business and sell regional WA to the world is the most sensible way to achieve that.
“We need less excuses for WA’s poor tourism performance and more interest in the tourism portfolio from the Labor Government.”
For media enquiries please contact Vince Catania on 9941 2999 or email firstname.lastname@example.org