Opportunity to participate in the Tourism WA Tourism Engagement Strategy Consultation was taken up by our Tourism Committee as they put the five strategic questions to Committee members at the last meeting. A summary of this discussion has been provided to the Minister and Parliamentary Secretary.

The Committee felt the most practical measure that the State Government could introduce prior to borders opening to help prepare the industry would be to provide an earlier date for skilled migrants and those with hospitality and tourism experience to enter Western Australia to help restore workforces that are currently under so much pressure. Backpackers, international students and those young visa holders who hold up much of the sector were all identified as those who could be provided with earlier passes for entry to help address the current skill shortage. A specific date for border opening is also strongly desired so organisations can plan appropriately.

Local strengths of the sector were identified to be the life, vibrancy and experiences. It is felt that these core assets seem to be missing in the current Tourism WA’s current campaigns. Committee members felt that we are so much more than a postcard of landscapes. It was felt that the focus for State government campaigns should be on “doing as a local does” and to be proud of our culture, heritage and genuine experiences.  Many travellers are coming to Western Australia to visit family, experience cultural, food and heritage experiences. These need to be more visible in all marketing. Fremantle’s Street Art Festival in April, 12 Nights in Port and Hidden Treasures in July and a variety of other marine and hospitality experiences attract travellers from all over the globe and this strength needs to be more represented. Urban adventures – bookstores, arts, culture, dinners, local produce, lifestyle, craft brewing – all of these things attract those in target markets.  Our incredible local seafood, gourmet produce and dining plays a key role in how a city or visitor destination welcomes its guests. Part of the way we welcome back family and friends flooding back into WA is through amazing food and hospitality offerings. This is a strength we can definitely play to.

It was felt that the Swan River and accessing and promoting this incredible waterway as a connection between Perth & Fremantle is a significant opportunity that is currently underutilised. As is coastal transport between Cottesloe, Leighton Beach, Fremantle and South Beach – all iconic Western Australian experiences that need to be better connected. Wayfinding, transport infrastructure and physical connections between our assets is also required to help build on these local strengths.

In terms of markets to regain or pursue, the key target suggested was hosting Family and friends as borders open is going to be a flood gate and therefore targeting locals to get to know their new and expanding tourism options prior to borders opening is a no brainer. Other markets follow this thought include Singapore, Malaysia and the UK as again family, friends and returning students enter WA. South Korea is another untapped market for Western Australia given the strength of trade connections already in place.

The Committee felt that rewards should be in place for those businesses actively promoting WA, gaining social media traction and those that are active and supportive in the sector. A campaign to target and reward those sharing the message could be put in place to help build messages and gain greater traction for Tourism WA. In terms of barriers and solutions, the biggest barrier continues to be staffing and shortages across the board in staffing the sector.  In addition, transport infrastructure up and down the coast, wayfinding and more creative ways to get visitors from A to B were raised. Finally a clear outline of processes for COVID vaccine procedures, evidence requirements, how it would be policed, lockdown scenarios, likely venue capacity changes and mask wearing was requested.