Almost half of the WA Government’s $10.4 million emergency grants for tourism businesses have gone unspent.
Only 884 of the 1138 small businesses which applied for the Tourism Recovery Fund’s $6500 handouts were successful, which equated to just 19 per cent of the 4500 small businesses selling or providing a tourism-product, or 3 per cent of the state’s 28,766 tourism-related businesses, which included retail, cafes, restaurants, roadhouses, other hospitality businesses and taxi services
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the grant was only going to be available to 1600 tourism operators who had to meet a certain criteria of being a member of Tourism Council WA or their regional tourism operator.
“It is important to note those businesses which were not eligible for the Tourism Recovery Fund were able to apply for the $4 million Tourism Business Survival Grants, for businesses most severely impacted by COVID-19, including travel agents,” he said.
Papalia said the remaining funds would be “repurposed for further recovery-related tourism initiatives in the near future”.
Opposition tourism spokeswoman Alyssa Hayden said many of the business did not realise the importance of being a member of the peak industry body and were not able to “just join up to their peak body” due to the expense.
“What we need to be doing is filling the gaps that our international and interstate visitors will have a massive impact on: Derby, Kununurra, all along our Mid-West and our Kimberley,” Hayden told WAtoday.
“The remote areas rely on international and interstate visitors and without them they are going to bleed out.”