Esperance experience bumper tourism season

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia at the 'Over the Horizon' event in Esperance on Friday, April 5. Photo: Jesinta Burton.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia at the 'Over the Horizon' event in Esperance on Friday, April 5. Photo: Jesinta Burton.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia has confirmed the state's latest record-breaking international tourism numbers have shown visitation to the Esperance region to have increased by 45 per cent in 2018.

Tourism Research Australia revealed a record-breaking 487,100 international holiday makers travelled to WA in 2018, a growth of 12.6 per cent and more than double the national average.

The growth was reflected in the Esperance region with more than 26,000 international holiday makers visiting in 2018.

Tourism spend was also up by 8.2 per cent and the length of the visitor's stay increased by four per cent.

The news comes as more than 600 international travel buyers and media from up to 30 countries arrive in WA on Monday, April 8, as part of the 40th annual Australian Tourism Exchange.

The event, which will run until April 12, is the country's biggest annual business to business conference and is expected to inject about $9 million into the local economy.

It is the first time Perth has hosted the conference since 2012, with many attendees expected to travel to regional areas, including Esperance, alongside Tourism WA staff.

In October 2018, the state government launched the 'Road Trip State' campaign - promoting the size of the state as an advantage and a road trip as one of the best ways to explore WA.

The campaign was launched domestically and in nine international markets and featured footage of Esperance and much of the state's South West.

Now more than one year into the state government's two-year tourism action plan, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the plan was still to get tourists to the state and out to the regions.

"It [The tourism action plan] is having an impact, it is working, but there is opportunity to grow it further," Mr Papalia said.

"We're starting to see improvement, so now is the perfect time to strengthen our international marketing efforts to entice more overseas holiday-makers from key markets to explore our state.

"I can guarantee you that Lucky Bay, Lake Hillier and the beautiful coastline of Esperance feature heavily in all of our promotion right around the world. 

"Forty-five per cent is great growth but I suspect it will continue growing because it's [Esperance] a great destination and given a lot of profile in our marketing.

"In this next 13 to 14 months, we will double our international marketing spend.

"The money that we spend on selling WA overseas in a year we will double in just over a one-year period, which will have an impact.

"Most of it will be spent on markets where we see an immediate return - markets like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.

"The funding will also be spent in our traditional markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

"We want people to stay longer and explore the state more."

For the first time since 2011, Western Australia will also have direct flights to Tokyo by September 2019.

While Tourism WA anticipate the flight will bring in an additional 76,000 Japanese visitors, Mr Papalia believes the actual figure could be much larger.

"I think that's conservative and it will be bigger than that," he said.

"It is an exciting time."