Regions must work smarter to grow their tourism brand

Saskia AdystiAlbany Advertiser
City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington at the National Anzac Centre.
Camera IconCity of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington at the National Anzac Centre. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Despite plenty of potential, the Albany and Denmark tourism industries are struggling to grow according to a report published by the Regional Australia Institute this month.

The Regional Growth Prospects Report listed both Albany and Denmark as areas where local conditions are constraining job growth in the tourism sector.

The report was based on the number of tourism-related jobs in the region from the past two national Census surveys in 2011 and 2016.

RAI chief executive officer Dr Kim Houghton said there was a strong tourism base in Albany, but local conditions were stopping it from growing as fast as other WA tourism hubs.

According to Dr Houghton, there were more than 900 tourism-related jobs in Albany in 2016 and more than 150 in Denmark. Almost 10 percent of the Albany’s workforce was involved in tourism.

With policy changes to help remove barriers for tourism growth, he was confident even more jobs could be created.

“What I found generally was that tourism organisations, in my view, typically spent more money in marketing and less on product development,” he said.

“And I found that for a lot of tourism regions you need to find the balance between the two

“Albany has got the granite coastline, the forest and the link to Anzac. It’s about understanding those different assets to different market segments

“You can’t replicate what Margaret River has done in another place because it won’t have the same appeal.”

In November last year, the State’s tourism report revealed a drop in the City of Albany visitor numbers by almost 10 per cent — with 49,200 fewer visitors than the previous year.

The South West region however recorded 5000 extra tourists in the same period.

Visitors in Shire of Denmark and Shire of Plantagenet had also dropped, with almost 4000 fewer in Denmark compared with last year, and 15,000 fewer annual visitors in Plantagenet.

“There is an advantage behind promoting the south coast as a region, because the majority of people who drive all the way to Albany would probably want to stay a night or two and experience the whole coast,” Dr Houghton said.

“Essentially all the local tourism coordinators need to work together to fill in gaps and find out what are their local constraints are.”

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