Barnett gave up his State Development portfolio for the new role spearheading WA’s Tourism portfolio, and it comes at an important time with Perth undergoing a seismic shift in infrastructure spending with the likes of Perth Stadium and Elizabeth Quay set to
be major drawcards.
Industry bodies such as Tourism & Transport Forum, Australian Hotels Association (WA) and Tourism Accommodation Australia have all welcomed the move, and rightly so.
Western Australia is at a turning point for its visitor economy. The latest figures showed WA has seen growth in both domestic and international visitation, but recorded a 4 per cent decline in international visitor expenditure.
Barnett is looking to grab a bigger slice of the lucrative Chinese visitor market, which other states have been successfully doing for years now, and here’s hoping he’s good for his word.
In the meantime, let’s make sure he understands that business events visitors are the biggest spenders of all, and he should be equally vocal in his support of the ongoing efforts of the Perth Convention Bureau (PCB), and reverse the State Budget decision to cut its budget by 28 per cent. The WA Opposition party has already pledged $5 million to the PCB if elected, and if Barnett is really serious about tourism he would be wise to do the same.