W. Australia to use S’pore as base in tourism drive

Move to attract more Asean visitors to state.

WESTERN Australia would use Singapore as a regional base to attract more tourists from Asean countries, state Premier Richard Court said yesterday.

He told reporters after opening the new Western Australian Tourism Commission (WATC) here that the WATC would act as a regional head office and service markets in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand.

Mr Court, leader of one of the most resource-rich states in Australia, said that Western Australia was aiming to attract one million visitors by the end of the decade.

Currently, more than one-third of all Singaporeans on holiday in Australia visited the state, making the Republic one of the most important tourism markets for Western Australia, he said.

The number of visitors from the Republic to Australia increased by 188 per cent over the past 10 years, from 65,200 in 1985 to 187,500 last year.

Mr Court said that Western Australia was also attracting a large number of tourists from the other Asean countries, particularly Indonesia.

He attributed the tourism growth partly to Western Australia’s geographical location – it being located in the same time zone as countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.

Western Australia was also “the closest Western culture” for many Asian countries, he said. It took just five hours by air from Singapore, for example, to reach the state’s capital, Perth.

He said that the WATC, located at The Adelphi in Coleman Street, would set up a trade and consumer helpline to service tourist markets in the region.

It was also planning to work with Asian airline carriers to conduct joint marketing campaigns.

“Asia has been a priority market for Western Australia but now there are increasing opportunities for us to work with our Asian neighbours to increase tourism to our region,” said Mr Court, who is here on a two-day private visit.

He said the challenge that the state government faced was to develop Western Australia’s infrastructure to cope with tourism growth.

The state wanted to attract investment in tourism infrastructure, especially in hotel accommodation in Perth.

He said that Singaporean businessmen were investing “in a big way and moving the quickest” by buying a number of hotels in Perth. They had also bought a number of office buildings which were being converted to hotels.

Singapore is now the largest foreign investor in Australia’s tourism industry.

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