WA Tourism Council chief flays its marketing efforts

Published on : Thursday, November 30, 2017

WA Tourism CouncilTourism Council of Western Australia chief executive Evan Hall said Tourism WA was failing to market the state’s tourism assets, and pointed to findings in Thursday’s Auditor Report on the industry.

The report stated that Tourism WA will fall short of achieving its target of $12 billion in visitor spending by 2020 by about $800 million per annum if significant improvements were not made.

The Report underscored a lack of effective marketing strategies towards interstate and overseas tourists, despite Tourism WA spending $42 million of its $91 million budget on marketing with almost half its staff involved in it.

Excessive turnover in executive positions had undermined marketing strategy, according to the report, and the current executives lacked the commercial expertise to compete against other States.

“The CEO of Tourism WA has no tourism marketing expertise, and the top tourism marketing role has been undertaken by seven people in seven years. The position has still not been permanently filled,” Mr Hall said.

“It is just a bit silly really. At tourism WA there is $85 million committed per annum to market WA and they do not employ a marketer to do it,” he added.

In addition, the Report highlighted a failure to promote and improve rates of Aboriginal tourism, which was identified as a priority in the 2020 strategy. Tourism WA did fund some initiatives aimed at delivering more Aboriginal travel experiences. But the number of visitors accessing Aboriginal tourism experiences has decreased from 36 per cent in 2010 to 21 per cent in 2016-17, despite 78 per cent of visitors wanting these opportunities.

Gerard Petrov is part owner of Gumbanan Wilderness Retreat in the Kimberly, which is an area traditionally owned by the Bardi people, and he said there was not enough support for Aboriginal tourism businesses.

“Indigenous tourism up here is down 88 per cent,” he said.

Tourism WA Chairman Nathan Harding said Tourism WA would work closely with Auditor General’s report, but he was confident that the organisation “had the right setting” to continue to increase visitor spending.

“We still have three years left under the strategy to increase visitor spend by a further $1.9 billion to meet the target of $12 billion in visitor spend by 2020,” he said.

“Under the WA State Tourism Strategy, Tourism WA has overseen a $4.1 billion increase in visitor spend in 7 years, from $6 billion to $10.1 billion.”

WA tourism minister Paul Papalia said many of the issues were a result of the direction from the former Barnett Government when it introduced the strategy back in 2012.
The audit analysed the performance of Tourism WA and the effectiveness of the 2020 strategy up to June this year.

“Well in advance of this audit we had already identified all of the findings made in the report,” Mr Papalia said.

Mr Papalia said the lack of effective marketing was because of where the campaigns were being directed.

“Since taking office we have determined that there is a real need to establish a marketing presence on the east coast and rectify a decision from the previous government to remove it,” he said.

More marketing will also be directed towards nearby countries that have direct flights to Perth.

Tourism WA also let slip key opportunities for collaboration with tourism partners involved in Aboriginal tourism, regional travel, and other government agencies, according to the report.

In order to live up to the 2020 strategy, the report recommended that Tourism WA needed to develop more ways to engage tourism partners and opportunities, to improve how it monitors implementation of strategy, improve record keeping, and to review its processes more regularly.

“Tourism WA did not demonstrate a strong focus on working with other government agencies to reduce red tape for tourism businesses,” the report said.


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