Tourism delivers a range of cultural and economic benefits to the community. This audit focuses on the development and implementation of the State Government Strategy for Tourism 2020.
While many agencies and industry are involved in the achievement of tourism related outcomes, the audit focuses on the performance of Western Australian Tourism Commission (Tourism WA). Recent machinery of government changes led to the amalgamation of Tourism WA into the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. In this report we refer to the entity as Tourism WA.
Tourism contributes a significant amount to the WA economy. In the year ending 31 March 2017, 19.35 million trips were taken within the state by Western Australians and there were 10.4 million overnight visitors to the state. All visitors, which includes international, interstate, intrastate and day trippers combined, spent $10.14 billion in WA, and $4.7 billion of this was spent in regional areas.
In 2010, the federal government agency Tourism Australia released a national strategy setting a whole of government target of doubling Australia’s tourist spend to $115 billion by 2020.
Tourism WA subsequently led the development of the WA Tourism 2020 strategy which was released in December 2012. The strategy describes 7 strategic ‘pillars’ for growth, linked together by ongoing operations, to help deliver WA’s strategy goal of doubling tourism spend from $6 billion in 2010 to $12 billion by 2020.
Three phases were established for the strategy:
- Setting the Foundation (2012-14) – generating investment in tourism infrastructure
- Gaining Momentum (2014-17) – increasing leisure and business visitation
- Achieving the Potential (2018-20) – getting visitors to stay longer, do more and disperse further when they visit.
The strategy emphasises the importance of partnership given the role of Tourism WA as a lead agency and the number of stakeholders involved in delivery (see stakeholder diagram in Appendix A), as described by the vision statement:
Through partnership between private sector and government, the State tourism industry will achieve its full potential by delivering against the tourism brand promise.
Visitors, as described in the strategy, include those travelling for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives, business, work, education and medical services. The tourism industry or sector that services this includes industries that directly serve visitors, such as hotels, transport providers, tour companies and attractions. It also includes intermediaries and those involved indirectly, such as retail and food production. Visitor activity contributes to investment and jobs across a range of industry sectors.
Tourism WA has been operating as a statutory authority since 1983 and has been under the same governance structure since the introduction of the WA Tourism Commission Act 1983. Tourism WA has a governing board and the CEO of the organisation is accountable to the Board.
The tourism portfolio experienced a number of changes in 2017. As part of machinery of government changes it amalgamated with other agencies to form the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation (DJTSI). It will need to consider the implications of the new organisational structure on governance arrangements. The CEO reports to both the Tourism Board and the Minister for Tourism.
Another change involved the way funding is provided. The government has committed to $425 million over the next 5 years of untied funding. Previously funding was allocated to specific programs. This has been publicly stated as a way of providing the Board with greater flexibility to use funds as needed and to plan ahead.
In 2016-17, Tourism WA received $90.6 million in funding: a $65.4 million appropriation plus $25.2 million in Royalties for Regions funding. In 2017-18, the appropriation has increased to $99 million, with Royalties for Regions funding of $21.4 million from 2017 to 2019. Tourism WA focuses on the following priority areas, each of which provide funding to other organisations to deliver strategy outcomes:
- Marketing – almost half of its funding and more than half of its employees deliver media campaigns, public relations and digital marketing. Tourism WA has focused on interstate and international marketing for leisure tourists with international markets including China, India, UK, US, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Germany. It also funds local marketing initiatives by regional tourism organisations (RTOs). It funds 5 RTOs a total of $3.8 million each year.
- Event sponsorship – just over one-third of funding is allocated to this priority area. Events are a way to raise the profile of WA and attracting leisure tourists for short stays. Tourism WA has supported high profile events like the Hopman Cup and the Margaret River Gourmet Escape as well as a range of smaller events. Tourism WA provides $4 million per year to the Perth Convention Bureau (PCB) for business events and marketing.
- Destination development – this is a key program intended to help tourism numbers increase by providing tourism infrastructure. For example, increasing the number of hotel rooms and airline and cruise capacity. Tourism WA also funds the Western Australian Tourism Council (TCWA) to help address skill gaps by funding $175,000 per year for service staff training over 3 years.