The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) has welcomed the State Government’s announcement of a further $10 million in funding to bolster tourism numbers and support jobs in the sector, taking its total funding package to $12.85 million.
The funding package includes $5 million to market WA’s unique appeal as a destination for road trips, bucket list natural experiences and food and wine trails, with another $8 million available to support regional flights to Exmouth, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon, Broome, Esperance and Albany.
It is a positive step, demonstrating that the government understands the impact of coronavirus on WA business.
Updated analysis by CCIWA indicates the loss of visitor expenditure in WA could be in the vicinity of $250 million to $300 million. These losses are expected to be concentrated in sectors like travel agencies, accommodation, retail trade, education and cafes and dining, with more than 2,000 jobs at risk.
Tourism is a vital part of the WA economy and Australia is among the safest and most idyllic destinations in the world for tourists to visit. International visitors alone contributed $870 million to the WA economy in the year to September 2019, with China’s 72,400 visitors accounting for nearly 40 per cent of that spending ($347 million).
Though the focus at this time is rightly on the safety and wellbeing of Australians, WA businesses need a return to business-as-usual as soon as it is safe.
It is also important to remember that local businesses in other sectors are facing significant challenges. Local exporters of premium seafood such as lobsters and crystal crabs have experienced significant disruption from the associated slowdown in the Chinese domestic economy.
The State Government’s announcement followed meetings with the WA business community. Through this process and other avenues, CCIWA has been strongly making the case for a response that supports our hard-hit local operators and mitigates the worst effects on the economy.
Recent efforts to bolster tourism from India and the UK are well targeted. It is critical that both the state and federal governments keep their options open to potentially further support the sector and the economy.