The Labor Government’s preference to subsidise flights to Broome will come at a cost to other regional Western Australia tourism destinations, according to The Nationals WA.
Under questioning in a Budget Estimates hearing, the Tourism Minister admitted his Government had struck a deal to reduce one-way Qantas airfares to Broome over the next 12 months without considering other towns but refused to detail how much it would cost taxpayers.
The Nationals tourism spokesman Vince Catania said there was no equity for access to the tourism market for other towns under the Labor Government’s flawed model and no transparency around the decision.
“Labor has effectively implemented an open-ended airfare reduction deal at an unidentified cost to WA taxpayers and refused to provide information about it to Parliament,” he said.
“There are plenty of other attractive destinations across WA that could have been considered or included in an airfare reduction program but the Government has chosen Broome above all else.”
Mr Catania said the McGowan Government’s tourism agenda remained heavily weighted towards Perth and Rottnest, to the detriment of Western Australia’s unique regional tourism marketability.
“The Minister crows on and on about his Government’s commitment to destination marketing and events and how important it is to growing tourism spending,” he said.
“Yet when asked to provide a breakdown of how much is allocated to marketing regions outside Perth, the Minister’s lips remain sealed.”
Leader of The Nationals WA Mia Davies said tourism outside Perth was an afterthought for Labor, despite regional WA being home to some of the world’s most iconic attractions.
“We know Labor has reduced the regional tourism spend growth target to 1 per cent by 2020 so it can focus its resources on Perth,” Ms Davies said.
“They have also proved unwilling to commit to re-regulating air routes and improving the aviation sector to create a more even playing field for airlines and better affordability for travelers.
“Thousands of regional West Australians and small business rely on a strong tourism sector to support their livelihood and that should start by making sure access to regional destinations is just as easy and affordable as coming to the city.”