The Western Australian Government has unveiled a new $185 million Reconnect WA package for it to “safely re-engage with the world” once the state transitions its border controls.
Launched to complement WA's Safe Transition Plan, and ensures businesses and industries have the competitive edge when the state welcomes back vaccinated travellers from overseas and jurisdictions with COVID-19, the new package is in addition to $250 million in other existing spending committed over 2021/22 and 2022/23
Aiming to promote Western Australia as “safe and full of opportunity”, the multifaceted package sets out to target tourists, skilled workers and international students while also looking to attract major international events.
As detailed in the Safe Transition Plan released last month, Western Australia will further ease its border controls in line with reaching a 90% double dose vaccination rate, expected in late January/early February.
A $65 million aviation fund is a key feature of the strategy, which will go towards re-establishing international and interstate flight routes that were disrupted by the pandemic, as well as targeting new routes including Germany, India, China and Vietnam.
The fund includes $25 million from the existing Aviation Recovery Fund and $10 million for intrastate aviation to ensure tourists travelling to WA can experience our incredible regions.
New campaigns will be tailored to specifically address the skills shortage by attracting workers, such as health staff and secondary teachers, skilled workers for key industries, and backpackers for hospitality and agriculture.
Incentives will also be offered to tourists, international students and workers that will include expanding the successful Stay and Play campaign, which offers discounts for those who stay in participating hotels, as well as vouchers for tours and experiences.
This will be complemented by an immediate additional $9 million funding boost to attract major international events to both Perth and the wider state. This extra funding is on top of the existing events budget of $77 million over 2021/22 and 2022/23 to attract and secure major events to our state, which has previously been successful in attracting European football giants Manchester United and Chelsea, and the UFC to WA.
The Reconnect WA package also includes $15 million to target the lucrative business events market to attract international conferences to Perth, an essential initiative to support CBD hotel occupancy as well as the hospitality industry.
Introducing the package, Western Australian Premier and Treasurer Mark McGowan “this is testament to the Western Australian community who have listened to the health advice and come together to protect each other, by getting vaccinated.
"Our management of the pandemic has been vindicated on health, social and economic grounds, and therefore the time has now come to look forward and plan for an exciting future.”
Tourism industry welcomes Reconnect WA package
Tourism Council WA has welcomed the Reconnect WA package and its $65 million commitment for marketing to attract tourists, workers and international students.
Tourism Council WA Chief Executive, Evan Hall stated “the Reconnect WA package is a good start to help Western Australia compete with other States in what is already proving to be an incredibly competitive market
“We suspect more funding will be needed for Western Australia to secure events, tourists and workers given the significant investment of competing States.”
Hall said it was critical the Reconnect WA package was extended to include funding to assist tourism businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions, adding “tour operators across WA, and particularly in Perth, have been heavily impacted by restrictions. These are the tourism businesses we need to regain international and interstate visitors to Perth and then into regional Western Australia.
“Many tourism businesses have been without income from international or interstate guests for close to two years. Financial support is needed for distressed businesses to pay operational costs such as insurance and State Government licence fees to remain open until international and more interstate visitors return.”
Uncertainty over Perth’s fifth Ashes Test hosting
Despite Western Australia moving forward with its promotional plans, media reports over recent days have suggest that Perth is now unlikely to host fifth Ashes Test from 14th January as a result of Premier McGowan maintaining a hardline stance on quarantine rules.
The MCG is understood to be ready to host the series finale.
Images: Businesses such as Out and About Wine Tours are ready to host visitors when Western Australia's borders reopen (top) and backpackers are among groups that the Reconnect WA package is reaching out to (middle) and Tourism Council WA Chief Executive Evan Hall (below).
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