A failure to convince interstate and overseas tourists to visit Western Australia — which is perceived as "too far away, too expensive and with a scarcity of hotel rooms" — is set to cost the State $800 million in projected tourism revenue by the end of the decade.
That's the key finding of a report by the auditor-general on the State Government's key "Strategy for Tourism in WA 2020" policy.
The strategy — launched by Tourism WA five years ago — aims to double tourism spending to $12 billion by 2020.
Under the plan, by 2017 WA was supposed to be enjoying a sustained boost to leisure and business tourist numbers.
But auditor-general Colin Murphy found that was yet to happen, making it "unlikely the strategy goal will be met in 2020".
Specifically, the auditor-general found there was a lack of growth in spending, especially among international visitors; inadequate marketing, despite a $42 million budget; and a failure to deliver four to five new "hallmark" events.
Mr Murphy said without "rapid and significant improvement", the key target of $12 billion in tourism spending by 2020 would be missed — by at least $800 million according to some projections.
He said despite a "good plan", Tourism WA had been inconsistent in following it, meaning targets for visitor numbers had been missed.
Part of the problem, Mr Murphy said, was a lack of collaboration and engagement between the government-funded agency and other tourism partners.
Tourism WA also needed to be more nimble in picking up on failures quickly and redirecting funding to where it would have the greatest impact, Mr Murphy said.
'Too far away, too expensive'
Responding to the report, the Department of Jobs, Science, Tourism and Innovation (JSTI) said efforts to lure holiday makers away from international markets had paid off last financial year, but acknowledged there was still work to be done.
Correcting the lingering perceptions on the east coast that WA is too far away, too expensive and has a scarcity of hotel rooms, remains a challenge," the department said.
It pointed out 3,300 hotel rooms had been built or were due for completion next year and would help make Perth more attractive as a leisure destination.
"The new hotel rooms also make Perth a better value proposition following years of a lack of accommodation and high hotel room costs due to high business demand fuelled by the mining sector," it said.
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