With Perth hosting Australian Tourism Exchange 2012 this week, with the Tourism Australia events team doing a great job as always, their efforts may well have been wasted, at least in terms of showcasing WA, by the astronomic costs being experienced by delegates in Perth.
I spoke to both sellers and buyers at ATE and all are appalled at the cost of restaurant meals, drinks and hotel rooms, with the majority saying they could never recommend their clients visit Perth, with that having an ongoing knock on effect for WA and Australian tourism in general.
A major Italian tour operator told me that he was aware that Australia was expensive but he was stunned by the costs in Perth, which were astronomically higher than any other city he had ever visited, including Rome, Tokyo, Dubai and New York!
A US based operator told me that his clients would be shocked at the price of coffee, snacks and even a beer in Perth and he would recommend to them they stay perhaps one night and no more in Perth, if they had to, but getting out as soon as they could, although he added that the incredible cost of hotel accommodation in Perth would recommend him to say not to bother with Perth.
A seller representative of a major international hotel group also told me that even though he worked for the group, he was having to pay over $300 a night to stay in their budget property in Perth, with was astronomic.
I experienced the same scenario, when I asked the Pan Pacific for a rate to stay on one night when I arrive back from the Cocos Keeling and Christmas Islands and was told I could have the media rate of $350!
I also had lunch in the very average and tired Fienan’s pub which is part of the Novotel Perth and what a mistake that was, with the bill for two burgers one draft beer and tow draft ciders coming to a massive $79 and a very basic fish pie a colleague bought an unbelievable $23. Also, one starter, two main courses and a bottle of cheap [well at least in the bottle shop] wine in a rather average Indian Restaurant cost $150!
Finally WA’s preoccupation with mining, which has caused this massive escalation of costs was further exemplified by WA Premier Colin Barnett, when he spoke at an ATE lunch this week, when he announced he knew little about tourism, continuing to tell the travel audience all about the strength of mining in WA and the state’s relationship with China – very strange when cindering the audience.
So, perhaps, sadly for the state’s tourism industry it may be time for travelers to give WA a wide berth until the mining boom is over with the consensus being that could be as short as five years.
John Alwyn-Jones reporting for Global Travel Media TV from Australian Tourism Exchange 2012.