MAJOR events are about to become a lower priority under the McGowan Government’s revised tourism strategy, despite Labor going to the election touting a $200 million five-year events war chest.
A view has crystallised among key government strategists that previous investments in luring Roger Federer to Cottesloe beach during the Hopman Cup, English soccer club Chelsea to the Perth Stadium and celebrity chefs to the Margaret River Gourmet Escape were more about “feeling good” than tangible results.
Doubt hangs over the future of the Margaret River Gourmet Escsape
Tourism events broadly fit into two categories — those designed to garner media attention to promote its host destination to an overseas and interstate audience, and those designed to draw attendees to a location. Measuring the success of the former is difficult.
Federer famously joined Colin Barnett at Cottesloe in the dying days of his premiership in what critics now regard as a missed opportunity because no one bothered to put a Perth or WA T-shirt on the tennis ace as the pair hit up for the cameras.
Major events remain a focus of industry body Tourism Council, with chief executive Evan Hall hailing the new stadium as a key to turning around WA’s flagging visitor numbers.
“The number one opportunity without a doubt is taking advantage of the stadium and big investment there and what a great design it is to attract a major events calendar like we’ve really never had before,” he said.
“That’s the sort of thing that’s been the backbone of the stellar performance that you’ve seen in Melbourne, where there’s always a major event on.”
Tourism Australia board member Bradley Woods said the State needed to focus on events that attracted visitors.
“Buying events because of their perceived branding and marketing value to get free air time is old thinking,” he said.
“There is far better value in investing in events which bring people to the State who are eating, drinking, sleeping and the outcome and benefits are directly recognisable and achievable.”
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia hinted events would be treated differently under a revision of the previous government’s Tourism 2020 strategy.
“It’s not that that they (events) are not important but it will be interesting to see how the board appraises the strategy and what they come back with,” he said.