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Tourism to be in an issue in next Western Australian election
Labor has pledged to make boosting tourism a key flashpoint of next year's Western Australia election with a promise to increase funding to the Perth Convention Bureau (PCB) if it wins office.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has promised an extra $5 million annual funding to the PCB, which helps not-for-profit associations, corporations and others bring their conferences to Western Australia.
Over the past three years the Western Australian Government cut funding to the PCB by $5.3 million, which the tourism/hospitality sector argued would cost the city's hotels, restaurants and wider economy about $85 million over the same period.
The Government provides three-quarters of PCB's funding, with hospitality operators putting in the rest.
McGowan said the Government's decision to cut funding to PCB was foolish because every dollar invested generated $30 in economic return for the state.
He told the ABC “this is about generating jobs for the future for Western Australia.”
McGowan said the funding pledge would provide certainty for the sector, and the spin-off to the WA economy from conventions was enormous because attendees were "big spenders".
He added “your average business delegate to a convention, spends four to five times what an ordinary tourist does in Western Australian, that's why we need to invest in conventions and attract more conventions to Western Australia.”
Tourism Council of Western Australia Chief Executive Evan Hall welcomed Labor's announcement and estimated the additional funding to PCB would generate $155 million in direct spending into the state each year.
Hall stated “we have calculated this will create at least 340 new jobs in the economy in areas like hotels, event management, retail ... because we're bringing in high yield business delegates.”
Western Australia’s current Tourism Minister Kim Hames is expected to give up the portfolio and move to the backbench when Premier Colin Barnett next reshuffles his Cabinet.
Hall would not name who he would like to get the tourism portfolio but said the sector wanted a "high calibre" replacement.
Hall added “tourism is an absolute growth industry for the future, it needs a senior minister in cabinet making sure that Western Australia enjoys that economic development.
"A deputy premier, premier, a senior cabinet minister, that's what tourism needs."
Opposition tourism spokesman Paul Papalia said the Government's decision to cut PCB funding was "crazy" and showed it was lazy and tokenistic about reeling in expenditure.
Papalia stated “because if you were going to cut anything in the state budget, at a time when you desperately needed jobs, this is the last thing you'd cut.”
13th November 20115 - PERTH ARENA ATTRACTS INTERSTATE AND OVERSEAS CROWDS
16th April 2015 - TOURISM FORUM AIMED AT TAKING WESTERN AUSTRALIA BEYOND RESOURCES
1st September 2014 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN TOURISM GROWTH GOES BEYOND THE MINING BOOM
9th July 2014 - TOURISM BOOST CREATES 2,000 JOBS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
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