Where the bloody hell are all the tourists?

28 Feb, 2012 02:02 PM
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PRISTINE beaches, world-class wineries, diverse natural landscape and seemingly endless sunshine: Western Australia is a marketer's dream.

Yet when it comes to promoting all the state has to offer tourism bodies believe WA is falling short - and as a result tourists are being lured elsewhere.

In the past 12 months alone, WA lost 83,000 interstate visitors, costing the economy $130 million.

So, where the bloody hell are all the tourists?

According to Tourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall, the only thing stopping WA from winning these tourists back from overseas and the eastern states is a lack of funding to carry out advertising campaigns.

The council, with the backing of tourism operators, is lobbying for the state government to provide an extra $27 million for tourism marketing and development.

Mr Hall believes WA has more to offer than its eastern states rivals, but has fallen off the radar because of a lack of promotion.

"We haven't got the advertising dollars to be top of mind when someone sits down and says, 'where are we going this year kids?' They are not thinking Western Australia because they simply don't know about it," he said.

"We are losing any ability to get our message out."

He pointed out the prominence of campaigns from New Zealand and Victoria.

He said the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign was an example of a well-supported brand.

"This is a brand that has constant funding from the national government. That is a government that gets tourism," he said.

"They have invested in this brand consistently, and we all know about it."

He said Tourism Victoria's 'You'll love every piece of Victoria' campaign was outperforming the rest of Australia due to the branding and marketing behind it.

"They take it seriously and they invest in branding and marketing. They have been showing this for 20 years. They have had consistent funding for marketing for 20 years."

On the other hand, Mr Hall said WA Tourism's Experience Extraordinary brand was far less prominent.

He said the campaign and brand itself was excellent, but became "useless if we don't tell anybody about it."

"We don't have the money for the cinema advertising, the print advertising, the TV advertising, to make sure we are top of mind when it comes to booking a holiday. We're not investing in our fantastic brand."

Tourism in WA generates $8.1 billion and creates more than 40,000 direct jobs across the state.

Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said many regions in WA were suffering from a downturn in visitors.

"When you compare WA to Victoria, or states like Tasmania, we are well behind the eight-ball, and it's time we had pride in our own state and promote the Experience Extraordinary WA tourism brand with an aggressive well supported media and marketing campaign," he said.

He said China was an important emerging market which tourism operators hoped to capitalise on in the coming years.

"We've seen a massive expansion in Asian visitation. China offers some huge opportunities for WA... if we don't have the money to spend in that economy, we are going to lose out to every state in Australia, and every country in the world that has a successful tourism marketing agenda."

Tourism Minister Kim Hames said there were some gaps in tourism promotion, and he agreed with the direction the Tourism Council of WA wanted to go in.

But he said money was tight, particularly due to WA's share of the GST being cut, and the $27 million figure was not realistic.

"Whatever amount of money I can get in a difficult financial environment, I'll be pushing for," he said.

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