South West tourism on the rise, but still lagging behind

The Margaret River Drug Aware Surf Pro is one of the events to receive extra funding from the state government.
The Margaret River Drug Aware Surf Pro is one of the events to receive extra funding from the state government.

DESPITE continued growth of international visitors to the region, Your Margaret River Region chief executive officer Pip Close has called on the state government for more funding into tourism to stop WA from falling behind other states.

Tourism Council Western Australia revealed a growth of 7 per cent in international tourism spend in the last 12 months ending March 2015.

“With the exception of South Australia, Western Australia is the worst performing state when it comes to international tourism,” Tourism Council WA chief executive officer Evan Hall said.

In comparison to other states such as Tasmania with a 41.53 per cent increase, WA is being left behind those who are investing heavily in their tourism industries according to Ms Close.

Ms Close said WA had a smaller tourism marketing budget than any other Australian state to work with.

“This budget needs to be bolstered to match the other states in order to be competitive in the tourism market,” Ms Close said.

“Tourism Western Australia is doing the best job with the funding they have, but they need more money.”

Tourism Minister Kim Hames said Tourism WA’s marketing budget is the largest it has ever been with the state government committing an additional $24 million since the last election.

“Add to that the state government’s investment in regional events such as the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, CinefestOZ and the IGA Taste Great Southern, and there’s a lot happening,” Mr Hames said.

Ms Close said initiatives like the recent re-brand of the tourism association had assisted in making the region more competitive in the minds of consumers.

“Findings from research into the perceptions of travellers from our key markets, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, clearly showed that the diversity of experiences available here is what sets the region apart from other destinations,” she said.

“It is imperative that we continue to leverage these kinds of opportunities to further promote the region beyond scheduled campaign activities which rely heavily on available funding.”