Shark attacks fail to bite in WA tourism wave

It has been a roller-coaster April for Western Australia’s accommodation industry.

The cancellation of the Margaret River Pro surfing event following shark attacks at local beaches undoubtedly put a hole in revenue for traders and accommodation houses and has thrown the future of the international event into doubt.

The attacks may also prove a deterrent for holidaymakers independently of the event.

But out of the water, WA is undergoing an accommodation and facilities shake up which could just revolutionise tourism in the state over the next two years.

Perth will play host to the largest travel and tourism industry event in the country in 2019.

The Australian Tourism Exchange, which brings together Aussie tourism providers and international buyers and media, added some $10 million to the Adelaide economy following its week-long run in earlier this month and is predicted to have a similar effect on Perth next April.

“ATE19 will be our time to really shine for an international audience,” said WA tourism minister Paul Papalia.

“We want Perth to be one of the most desirable leisure and business event destinations in the world, and ATE19 gives us an extraordinary opportunity to position ourselves as Australia’s western gateway.”

The following April, Perth will also host the third World Indigenous Tourism Summit, which brings together indigenous tourism operators from all over the world.

Mr Papalia said: “Aboriginal tourism plays an important part of Tourism WA’s two-year action plan which will attract more visitors to WA, encourage them to stay longer, disperse further into the regions and do more while they’re here.”

Campus Perth, a four-tower development adding another 700 student beds students, will change the cityscape of Northbridge and East Perth.

The development is designed to attract a new generation of students to Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia, Curtin University and Edith Cowan University, through facilities including rooftop barbecue areas, fitness clubs, free WiFi, and campus organisers.

Executive director of Study Perth, Phil Payne, said the new towers would have “a tremendous positive impact on the CBD”.

Meanwhile, tourism is driving the development of 14 new or redeveloped hotels by 2020, offering another 2,600 new rooms in the city under the Westin, QT, Doubletree by Hilton and Ritz-Carlton banners.

And events are also ramping up thanks to the new 60,000 seat Optus Stadium opened in January.

The venue will host a number of stars of the international stage this year, including Chelsea Football Club against the Perth Glory in July, The Wallabies verses the All Blacks in August’s Bledisloe Cup clash, and megastar Taylor Swift in October.

But more than anything else, new passenger flights directly linking Australia and Europe should encourage more visitors to kick-start their Australian tour with a stay in WA.

Qantas launched its daily direct London to Perth flights in March on the 787 Dreamliner, with cheaper flights to other WA destinations, including Broome and Exmouth, part of the package to boost tourism.

The flow-on should be felt by tourism operators near and far from Perth, with Fremantle due to undergo a $1 billion facilities upgrade, Scarborough Beach earmarked for a $100 million foreshore facelift and the former Rottnest Island penal colony to enjoy a new luxury hotel and glamping development.

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