State government pledges support for WA tourism, reduced regional airfare costs

Funding boost for regional airfares

The state government has announced a $12.85 million package to support local tourism and deliver cheaper regional airfares in response to the east coast bushfires and coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement follows the federal government's travel advice and border restrictions in response to the coronavirus.

The package includes the $2.85 million recently announced to drive more interstate and intrastate travellers to holiday in WA.

About $5 million will be spent immediately on marketing and support initiatives to drive more travellers to holiday in WA and travel to the regions.

The funding will focus on marketing road trip campaigns, nature experiences and food and wine trails.

Premier Mark McGowan said the package will provide immediate support to local tourism operators and regional areas.

"The challenges of the recent international and national events including the novel coronavirus and the East Coast bushfires are undoubtedly having some impact on our state's economy," he said.

"Despite our outstanding results in the tourism space where we smashed records across the board in visitor numbers and spend, the tourism industry is now facing tougher times, beyond our control."

An $8 million fund will also be available for the state government to collaborate with airlines to make key regional flight routes more affordable to coincide with the release of the draft WA Aviation Strategy.

The draft strategy follows the government's commitment to address the state's high regional airfare costs following the parliamentary inquiry into regional airfares.

Discussions between the state government and airlines on how to boost visitation to WA regional areas will commence immediately and are expected to be rolled out from 2020-21.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said there had been steady progress in reducing regional airfares with 15 regional towns.

The new package will build on cheaper airfares already being offered to Exmouth, Monkey Mia, Carnarvon, Broome, Esperance and Albany, and the soon to be direct flights between Busselton and Melbourne.