We are on the home stretch of the Western Australian State Election Campaign, with just 4 days to go until voters from Bunbury to Broome cast their ballots to determine their next Premier and Government. Will it be Colin Barnett and the Liberal Party? Or will it be Mark McGowan and the ALP? And what will be the role of One Nation?
Regardless of the outcome, one thing is certain – the future success of the Western Australian economy depends on continued investment in the tourism and transport sectors.
There is no doubt that the end of the mining investment boom has hit Western Australia harder than most, but there is now an opportunity to get behind and grow a sustainable tourism and transport industry that will not leave Western Australia exposed to the peaks and troughs of commodities.
With its fantastic beaches, unique national parks and world famous wine district, Western Australia is well placed to benefit from a booming visitor economy if the next government makes the right investments.
To ensure that the right investment decisions are made in Western Australia, TTF last week launched a five-point plan for the next Western Australian Government to adopt that will help supercharge the State’s economy. The plan calls on the next Government of Western Australia to:
- Ensure that the Premier retains the tourism portfolio;
- Increase investment in tourism marketing and business events;
- Promote sustainable regions;
- Invest in critical transport infrastructure; and
- Develop an integrated tourism and transport action plan.
With tourism contributing around $13.4 billion to the Western Australian economy it is crucial that tourism remains a high-profile cabinet portfolio. It is worth noting that Premier Colin Barnett currently serves as Tourism Minister.
Promoting tourism through destination marketing and securing business events in Western Australia is a wise investment to attract more high-yield international and domestic visitors. Boosting the funding for Tourism WA will help grow the visitor economy and support more jobs and economic activity in the State.
A near doubling of the Western Australian population by 2031 means we need to be embracing industries that can create jobs not just in the cities but also in the regions. Tourism and transport are key sectors that can be used to promote sustainable regions and bring jobs and economic activity to rural and regional communities in Western Australia.
A strong visitor economy needs a strong transport network. Congestion is costing the state billions of dollars in lost time and economic activity and visitors are increasingly placing a premium on travelling to destinations with good public transport.
Expanding the public transport network and improving connections between key visitor infrastructure assets must be a key focus of the next Western Australian Government.
TTF has long been a vocal advocate of governments developing integrated tourism and transport strategies which recognise that visitors as well as local commuters should be central to planning and building new public transport projects as well as ticketing products and way-finding.
I am confident that regardless of the election outcome on Saturday, the next Western Australian Government will do all it can to boost the visitor economy and to meet the transport challenges of the future.