Redman criticises lack of State funding for grassroots tourism

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Warren-Blackwood MP Terry Redman in Katanning.
Camera IconWarren-Blackwood MP Terry Redman in Katanning. Credit: Danella Bevis

Regional visitor centres in the Great Southern are not getting the attention they deserve, according to Warren-Blackwood MP Terry Redman.

Mr Redman said the State Government’s tourism budget was heavily focused on promoting recognised attractions in WA such as Rottnest Island and Swan Valley, while not giving enough funding to locally run visitor centres in regional towns.

He said he was disappointed to learn that the Regional Visitor Centre Sustainability Grant Program, which aimed to improve visitor centres in towns such as Albany and Denmark, was no longer available.

“Our visitor centres are our signposts to our iconic tourism destinations,” he said.

“Many are promoting unique experiences that tourists don’t necessarily get when they look only at the highbrow advertising.

“But I think the focus of this Government seems to be on the high-end advertising, certainly on Rottnest Island and Swan Valley tourism and arguably maybe Broome.”

“But we don’t see funding given to the grassroots organisations, sadly.”

A State Government spokeswoman said the Regional Visitor Centre Sustainability Grant Program ended 12 months ago after helping more than 100 regional visitor centres improve facilities.

“The latest Tourism Research Australia stats shows the number of visitors to WA and their total spend has reached an all-time high and I’m pleased Australia’s South West is following that trend,” she said.

“In the year ending in March 2019, Australia’s South West — which encompasses Bunbury down to Albany — saw visitor numbers grow by 14 per cent and visitor spend increase by 11.6 per cent.”

But Mr Redman said there should be more funding for local tourism groups.

“Many of these groups are looked after by volunteers,” he said.

“We need to maintain that volunteer-based support.”

Amazing South Coast chief executive Peter Grigg was contacted for comment but unable to reply before deadline.

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