Tourism Budget Welcome but Border Assumption Costly

8 October 2020

Tourism Council WA has welcomed the increased tourism funding announced in today's State budget, but warned the tourism industry would face a $3 billion loss if Treasury assumptions about the State's border closure became reality.

Tourism funding will increase by approximately $12 million to $133 million in 2021-21, including an additional $9 million to boost regional aviation.

"The funding to support discounted regional airfares is the most effective tool to assist seasonal tourism businesses which have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 restrictions," Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said.

The State Budget also funds the $150 million Tourism Recovery Package, which focuses on upgrades to nature-based tourism facilities. 

"The recovery funding to upgrade visitor facilities such as Rottnest Island and National Parks is welcomed by the industry," Mr Hall said.

The State Budget papers include an assumption that the interstate border will remain until at least 1 April 2021, which would result in a $3 billion hit to the tourism industry, based on the latest data from Tourism Research Australia's National Visitor Survey.

"The tourism industry expects that an April border opening is a conservative Treasury assumption," Mr Hall said.

"Even with increased intrastate spending in regional WA, the State is still losing more than $200 million a month in domestic tourism.

"By April 2021, this would amount to more than $3 billion lost in overall domestic tourism. This does not include the more than $2 billion that will also be lost from international tourism by that time."

With JobKeeper running out at the end of March, Mr Hall warned there would be tens of thousands of tourism jobs lost if the WA border remained until then.

"If the hard border is still in place by the end of March, there will need to be significant support to maintain jobs with coach companies, Perth hotels, and tours and experiences, which have been hit hardest by the border closure," Mr Hall said.

"Ahead of interstate travel resuming, there will need to be additional funding for marketing to secure discount interstate airfares, major and business events, and attract leisure visitors from the east coast, among what will be an increasingly competitive market."
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