Despite a good plan and various initiatives, inconsistent delivery led to delays in attracting more international and interstate visitors
The Tourism 2020 strategy provided a sound blueprint, based on wide consultation and robust data to enable the sector to double visitor spend to $12 billion in 2020. Since 2010, Tourism WA has received almost $800 million in total funding.
Tourism WA has worked with partners to deliver a range of initiatives, particularly in the first phase of the strategy ‘setting the foundation’. This included facilitating public and private infrastructure investment relating to increasing the number and affordability of Perth hotels, changes to liquor licensing regulations, and stadium development.
Despite delivering a number of initiatives, it is likely that the key visitor spending target will fall short of the 2020 goal. Tourism WA has not delivered on phase 2 of the strategy ‘building momentum’ as it has not achieved a sustained increase in visitation growth from interstate and overseas.
Without rapid and significant improvement, it is unlikely the strategy goal will be met in 2020 due to delays in achieving the phases. Specifically:
- Insufficient growth in visitor spend, particularly for international visitors: International visitor spend has consistently not met capitalised annual growth targets since the start of the strategy (Figure 3). The amount of spending from interstate and intrastate visitors has not met annual targets in several years.
- Lack of marketing strategy: Tourism WA has not demonstrated adequate strategic marketing plans and analysis of marketing performance to invest in those activities that have the greatest impact. This is despite Tourism WA investing heavily in marketing with half of all staff involved, and $42 million of the $91 million budget. Tourism WA has recently drafted a marketing plan which has not yet been finalised.
- Not yet delivered new events: Tourism WA has not yet ensured delivery of 4 to 5 new hallmark events in Perth. These events were planned to attract large numbers of inbound visitors. It is crucial that Tourism WA works closely with industry partners to ensure that a future program of events maximises visitation to WA.
Tourism WA did not record, analyse and report information effectively to support its delivery of the strategy
Tourism WA’s recordkeeping and reporting practices do not support the effective review of Board and Executive Management decisions and the impact on business outcomes. Our review of documentation showed that often minutes did not detail discussions informing key decisions. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for Tourism WA to assess its performance. Since this audit Tourism WA has commenced keeping more extensive minutes of strategic meetings.
A lot of data was collected and a range of existing performance monitoring reports are provided to the Board. However, each year different indicators are reported on in different formats with a lack of comparable indicators reviewed over time. This means that the Board did not place itself in a position to identify and address ongoing issues and tended to respond reactively to concerns.
Tourism WA cannot demonstrate that it is using sponsorship dollars in the best way or show the overall impact of funding decisions. Tourism WA have delivered many activities, which have had a positive effect. What is critical to overall success is early recognition of those areas and projects which are not performing well. Rapid responses to cease underperforming initiatives and redirecting funding may improve overall effectiveness. Some events have been sponsored for almost 20 years without significant review.
The overall process for event sponsorship and management was appropriate. Because the Board approved events one at a time, and evaluation information was not consistently presented and not always viewed by the Board, it was hard for them to have an overall view of the effectiveness of the events program.
There has been no formal assessment of whether the current arrangements for delivering tourism outcomes is most suited to the current competitive environment. The governing legislation was last reviewed in 1994. This was not an overarching review of the overall effectiveness of the Commission. Given the dynamic and often commercial nature of tourism operations, a review prior to the next strategy would identify whether the existing model ensures Tourism WA is well placed to compete with other tourism bodies.
The 2020 strategy did not clearly articulate the role of, or targets agreed to by, the partnering agencies (See Attachment A for further description of partner agencies). This has contributed to key initiatives being delayed or not delivered, for example:
- Business and regional travel: Performance against these pillars of the strategy was to be achieved by funding others and Tourism WA saw itself as just an advocate for achieving these outcomes. Unless Tourism WA works closely with these partners to achieve the outcomes it increases the risk of under-achieving against 2 of the strategic pillars.
- Industry readiness: While the workforce has been increasing in size, there are concerns that the capability of the tourism workforce is unlikely to be at a level that will support achievement of strategy outcomes. Tourism WA does not currently collaborate with industry extensively to help address this other than to fund the Tourism Council of WA. Not having a focus on building workforce capacity could critically undermine achievement of the final phase of the strategy, as poor visitor experiences could lead to reduced repeat visits and length of stay.
- Aboriginal tourism: Tourism WA delivered a range of activities to improve Aboriginal tourism experiences. Demand has been increasing to almost three-quarters of all visitors wanting an Aboriginal tourism experience, but most visitors are still not accessing them. More effective engagement with industry still needs to take place for more visitors to start experiencing Aboriginal tourism experiences. Tourism WA is taking steps to better understand how existing Aboriginal tourism products can adapt for new markets to address these concerns.
- Red tape reduction: Partners reflected that it was difficult for tourism businesses to work with government agencies to grow and deliver new products. Tourism WA did not demonstrate a strong focus on working with other government agencies to reduce red tape for tourism businesses.