Talking Tourism

Issue 603, April 9, 2020


Welcome to this week’s edition of Talking Tourism newsletter.

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A message from all of us at Tourism WA

This issue of Talking Tourism comes to you just before the Easter break; usually a bumper time for tourism, but we know the current circumstances are anything but usual. This Easter will be very different to any other, but at Tourism WA, we remain determined to help industry through to the ‘other side’ of this pandemic. Be sure to take a few minutes to have a look at this moving video from Tourism WA’s International Marketing Managers to industry. The video sends a message of solidarity, support and the team’s shared focus on working to market WA to visitors when possible. There are also contact details at the end of the video if you have any questions you would like to raise. It can be viewed here. We hope you all stay safe during the break and get an opportunity to take some time out and find a way to make the occasion special.


Industry Support Team update

The Industry Support Team started work this week, and has already contacted around 100 operators from across the State including Esperance, Great Southern, Broome, Pilbara, Perth and Exmouth. The team, made up of a cross section of Tourism WA staff and industry partners, will be speaking with thousands of operators across the State over the next few weeks to check in and have a chat about issues, connect them with information and resources such as assistance packages - as well as discuss ideas for recovery, when the time is right. An important part of their work is acting on the information and concerns raised in the calls and escalating queries through the right channels to provide support. It’s been fantastic to hear the different and innovative ways many operators have worked quickly to tweak their product to meet the new environment we are working in, from adapting their business to offer takeaway, to investing in digital content to reach people at home. Due to the volume of calls it will take time to reach people so those who need to talk to someone from the team urgently should contact them via email.


WA visitor numbers at all-time high before COVID-19 crisis

Visitors to and within Western Australia reached record levels in 2019, according to the latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) and National Visitor Survey (NVS). While it’s important to acknowledge these very positive visitor numbers, Tourism WA is now focused on supporting the tourism industry through the current COVID-19 crisis. The industry makes a vital economic contribution to the State. The data, which was released by Tourism Research Australia yesterday, revealed 24.2 million daytrips were taken and 12 million overnight visitors came to, or travelled within, Western Australia in 2019. Together, these visitors spent $11 billion in the State, $5.2 billion (or 48 per cent) of which was spent in regional WA. A total of 995,700 international visitors travelled to the State in 2019 - an increase of 3.3 per cent on the 2018 figures. International holiday visitors, specifically, increased by 10.1 per cent, with 536,400 overseas travellers choosing WA as their holiday destination in 2019. These visitors spent $870 million – an increase of 13.7 per cent on 2018. This is the highest ever number of international holiday visitors to WA and the strongest growth rate in international holiday visitors and spend of all states and territories. For more information on the visitor statistics for 2019, visit our corporate website.


Relief package targets small and medium-sized businesses

The State Government’s relief package, announced last week, contains targeted funding for small and medium-sized businesses, with $502 million allocated to provide assistance in the following areas:

Electricity – A one-off $2,500 credit for Synergy and Horizon Power customers that consume less than 50 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum. The credit is available for current customers (as of March 31, 2020) and will be allocated from May 1, 2020.

Payroll tax – will be waived for a four-month period between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 for businesses with Australia-wide annual wages of less than $7.5 million in 2019-20.

Licence fees – A range of licence fees in impacted industries will be waived for the next 12 months, including licences for tourism businesses operating in national and marine parks and boat registration and mooring fees for tourism operators. Liquor licence renewal fees for 2020 will also be waived and refunds provided for businesses that have already paid.

Payments waived – businesses can apply for an interest-free payment arrangement and for late payment penalties to be waived for payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax.

Power and water – Small businesses will not have their power or water disconnected due to late payments, and no interest will be charged on deferred bill payments. For electricity, this will apply to Synergy and Horizon Power customers who consume 50MWh or less.

Read more in the Premier’s media statement.

In addition, the State Government will waive rent for six months for eligible tenants of buildings owned by Government agencies and trading enterprises as part of a $25 million rent relief plan. Read more in the Premier and Treasurer’s media statement.


Australian Government JobKeeper payment

The Australian Government’s JobKeeper payment helps businesses affected by the coronavirus cover the costs of their employees’ wages, so that more employees can keep their job and continue to earn an income. Under the JobKeeper program, businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from March 30, 2020, for a maximum of six months. This will also assist employers to reactivate their business quickly, without having to re-hire staff, once the crisis is over. Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent (of at least a month), or if their business has an annual turnover of $1 billion or more (or is part of a consolidated group for income tax purposes with turnover of $1 billion or more) and they estimate their turnover has fallen, or will likely fall, by 50 per cent or more; and if the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy. Self-employed individuals will be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment where they meet the relevant turnover test outlined above. Check the fact sheets on the Australian Government Treasury website for more information and detailed eligibility requirements.


Lotterywest grant support for events

The State Government, through Lotterywest, has set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund with funding support for not-for-profit arts, sports and community organisations experiencing financial hardship as a result of cancelled events (Event Cancellation Relief for Arts, Sports and Community Groups). The funding will compensate for cancellation costs, lost revenue and incurred or committed operational costs associated with cancelled events.  Support will also be made available to eligible organisations to continue to provide support services and activities that benefit the WA community during the pandemic (Resilient Arts, Sports, Events and Community Groups). For organisations that have an approved grant or an application under assessment, Lotterywest is encouraging people to get in touch to explore their options. Read more here.


Travel restrictions update

The State Government closed Western Australia’s borders at 11:59pm on Sunday, April 5, to isolate the State from the rest of Australia and further protect West Australians from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more, including information about exemptions, here. Stronger restrictions have also been put in place to protect Esperance residents. West Australians are now not permitted to enter Esperance from another local government district within that region, without an exemption. These districts include Coolgardie, Dundas, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Laverton, Leonora, Menzies, Ngaanyatjarrakuh and Ravensthorpe. Check points and mobile police patrols are in place to monitor travel across districts. For more information, including exemption categories, refer to the Goldfields Esperance (Local Government District Travel Restrictions) Directions. This follows last week’s announcement regarding regional travel restrictions introduced that prohibit West Australians from leaving regional boundaries. Additional restrictions apply to remote the Kimberley and Aboriginal communities. Read more and view the regional boundaries here.


Advice and information on hand for small businesses

The Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) is providing practical information and guidance to help small businesses in the WA tourism industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Owners can get information by:

• visiting the dedicated SBDC website page and following the blog for regular updates.

• calling 133 140 or emailing to get confidential advice from an experienced business adviser.

• joining the Facebook group 'I'm a small business owner in Western Australia' to access support and advice from more than 8,000 local small business owners

• registering for a free webinar covering key business topics to cope with disruption

• accessing regional WA support through the SBDC’s Business Local service.


New campaign to support local businesses

Ordering take away meals, getting products delivered or calling in tradies to complete tasks at home are just some of the ways the public is being encouraged to support small businesses.
The State Government’s ‘Small business needs your business’ campaign promotes a variety of different ways people can get behind their local operators, including urging people to postpone - not cancel - their WA holidays. Take a look at the video and read more here.


Show off State’s stunning attractions online

Forget your home office and instead give everyone in your online Zoom meetings a glimpse of some of Western Australia’s stunning locations with a downloadable backdrop. A Tourism Australia initiative, the “Australian Great Outdoors” collection of Zoom backdrops features the picturesque and popular Lucky Bay near Esperance, as well as Cape Leveque in the Kimberley region. For more information and to download images go here.


COVID hotline and FAQs

The State Government has established a hotline to help answer questions West Australians have on the current COVID-19 State of Emergency. The hotline number is 13 26 842 (or 13COVID) and operates from 7am to 10pm, seven days a week. The hotline includes a range of options for callers, including pre-recorded information and direction to appropriate websites or call centres for specific information. Tourism WA also has a dedicated coronavirus webpage containing a FAQ document that is regularly updated with relevant industry information, contact numbers and links.


Coronavirus app launched

The Australian Federal Government has launched a Coronavirus Australia app to provide up to date, trusted advice on COVID-19 from the Commonwealth. It includes advice on hygiene, symptoms, public gatherings and the latest news and announcements from the Federal Government. Search ‘Coronavirus Australia’ in the App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android to download it for free. You can also stay up to date via WhatsApp to get #COVID19 information from the official Australian Government chatbot. Message +61 400 253 787 or click here.


Take heart

We have introduced this new section in Talking Tourism to give the people in our industry a ray of light among the darkness, with snippets of good news. Our Public Relations team is also keen to hear from you, if you’ve found a new way of doing things – for example, offering your product virtually or creating something new. The team is receiving media requests and will be collating the information and pitching to domestic and international media in the coming weeks. Feel free to email this or any other feel-good industry news our way, and we’ll try to include as many as possible in coming editions.


Cute connections

Peel Zoo is ensuring the public can catch a glimpse of its array of cute residents, such as Bonnie the Rufous Bettong Joey and Raegen the Southern Boobook Owl, online through daily Facebook videos. The sanctuary is also running a campaign encouraging people to ‘adopt’ their favourite animal.


Whale watching

Whale Watch Western Australia is offering people the chance to experience the magic of the Blue Whale from the comfort of their own home, with the launch of its first virtual tour which will form part of a series. There will be a new episode each week and viewers can also keep up-to-date with other fascinating information.


Banding together

Ferngrove Wine Group, Whipper Snapper Distillery and LabWest have banded together to fill an urgent need for medical grade hand sanitiser. The three WA business are combining their resources, skills and expertise to address the issue, whilst boosting local production through a WA-based supply chain. The hand sanitiser will be made for industrial supply and the first batch is expected to be ready on Friday, April 3. It will be supplied to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Transperth, City of Perth, mining companies, aged care providers, schools, retail workers and other businesses. The Great Southern Distilling Co in Albany has also switched from whisky and gin production to creating hand sanitiser.


Friday Fizz

Missing your tourism mates? The WA tourism community is a close-knit network of hard-working, passionate people who like to get together regularly, share stories and socialise. With this in mind, on Fridays (for the foreseeable future) tourism operators now have an opportunity to get together online to remind each other that we're all in this together. In these uncertain times, there's no better time to come together and show support for one another.  Places are limited, so get in quick to secure your spot by registering here.


Digital content

Our digital content team wants to hear from you and keep across what you are now doing differently. Please continue to use the #thisiswa hashtag and @mention Western Australia on social media as you usually do so the team can pick it up.