Warnbro MLA Paul Papalia will arrive in Esperance this weekend, March 3, in his first visit as the state’s Minister for Tourism.
Upon arrival, Mr Papalia is set to make the trip out to Cape Le Grand and Lucky Bay before taking to the Esperance Cup on Sunday, March 4.
Just last January, Tourism Research Australia revealed that visitation to Cape Le Grand National Park has increased by 25 per cent in the last six years.
Mr Papalia said he was excited to reacquaint himself with the beautiful tourism attractions within the region and acknowledged the impact of the increased social media coverage on the local tourism industry.
“I think that the increase in tourism is a consequence of the instagram generation,” he said.
“Esperance has been given a higher profile and people are now aware of the beauty of the Esperance region and surrounds.
“We use a lot of imagery from Esperance and from Cape Le Grand in marketing the state and that plays a significant role in helping us sell Australia as a beautiful destination.”
Having travelled to China twice since taking on the role, Mr Papalia said the state government were very focused on growing their share of the Chinese market.
“The people who come from China to Western Australia are aware of Esperance, it’s a very attractive destination for them, and what we’re trying to do is grow the number of direct flights from China,” he said.
“We’ve only got China Southern flying from Guangzhou at the moment.
“The Premier led a trade delegation in November and met with the chairman of China Eastern out of Shanghai and we’re very focused on trying to get that direct flight.
“Marketing our beautiful locations, like Lucky Bay, are a key element of that and I can guarantee that we’ll be using every opportunity we can, throughout the Asian region and beyond, to promote the region because it is a beautiful place and a key asset for us in marketing the state.”
In discussing airfares, Mr Papalia said he was sensitive to the high price of regional airfares across the state and confirmed the state government were looking at the situation.
“I do see that and, with Esperance being such an attractive destination, anything we can do to drive down the price of airfares would help,” he said.
“With the Minister for Transport, I am seeking out a meeting with Rex to open discussions and see what might be done to address the price of regional airfares but, at this stage, I can’t say that we’ve got anything sorted but we are looking into it.
“Look, they do have tight margins and they are constrained by aircraft and crew and the costs to keep running them but we are working with the state to try and work with airlines, airports, airport operators and other tourism businesses in an effort to try and get better packages and achieve better outcomes in attracting tourists.”
Having gone from strength to strength in growing the tourism industry, Mr Papalia said it would now be about accommodation for the growing market in Esperance.
“If we’re trying to grow international or interstate visitation, we’ve got to have somewhere for them to stay,” he said.
“I think anything that can be done to grow new places for people to stay so there is the capacity to accomodate people, that will be the key to growing tourism in the region.”