WA tourism activity slumps by a quarter without interstate visitors

Tourism business activity across WA declined 26 per cent in June and July compared with the same time last year.

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said that since the regional borders had been removed, many Western Australians had been travelling and supporting tourism businesses, but this had not made up for business usually coming from interstate and international markets.

“It has been fantastic to see so many Western Australians taking up the opportunity to explore their own backyard in the past couple of months,” Hall said.

“While many operators reported a strong July school holidays, overall tourism business activity in June and July declined by 26 per cent compared with last year.

“Our survey revealed a mixed bag of experiences among types of tourism businesses and regions, and showed Western Australians are favouring self-drive destinations and low-cost, self-contained accommodation options.

“While there has clearly been some pent-up demand for intrastate travel, those visitors are not travelling and spending in the same way as out-of-state visitors.”.

The survey showed business activity for tour and transport operators declined 61 per cent, and attractions, visitor centres and specialty retail declined 30 per cent. At the other extreme, self-catered accommodation business activity increased by 18 per cent and hosted accommodation business activity increased by 32 per cent.

The most severely affected tourism regions were Australia’s North West (-73%) and Perth (-62%), particularly the CBD, while Australia’s South West business activity increased by six per cent, due to its proximity to Perth making it a driveable destination.

Hall said JobKeeper and the recent announcement of its extension had been a lifeline for tourism businesses which needed interstate and international visitors to survive.

“However, there are concerns about what will happen to many tourism businesses once JobKeeper winds down, as close to half of businesses reported they would need to reduce staffing levels or close their business once JobKeeper ends if interstate and international travel remains restricted,” he said.