The inaugural non-stop flight between Perth and London is almost upon us, and while you’re counting how many inflight movies you can watch in 17 hours, Western Australia is rolling out the welcome mat. But just how viable is a Perth stopover?
Perth, as you may know it, is gone. Or rather it has come out the other end of its mining boom a shiny, vibrant city at the doorstep of an array of natural splendours.
Without venturing too far, visitors can meet the quokkas on Rottnest island, take a tractor tour through the Perth Hills, wander through the eerie formations of the Pinnacles and, thanks to Swan River Seaplanes even do Margaret River in a day. With all this you’d think the city and the state practically sells itself.
But Western Australia tourism minister Paul Papalia says there’s still work to be done to “eradicate forever” the reputation the city earned during the boom.
During those years, visitors to the city (celebrated as one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities even then) faced a Perth that was witness to multiple mega projects happening concurrently, the result of which meant a sudden population growth, a paucity of property and, as the stories went, expensive coffee.
“That is no longer the case,” Papalia said at an industry lunch in Sydney today, attended by Traveltalk.
But the tourism boss admitted that as a result “our leisure tourism had collapsed”.
“Travel from [the east coast] collapsed by in the order of 30% and we haven’t recovered...but we are now going to fix that.”
The state will this week launch a new “aggressive” campaign on the eastern seaboard that likens Perth to a hotel.
“When the Indian Ocean’s your swimming pool, the entire city your minibar and everyone you meet, your friendly concierge, it’s no wonder Perth feels like one big hotel,” the spiel on a campaign brochure reads.
According to the Perth Hotel Development Pipeline Report of December 2017, the city saw an increase of 1,606 rooms since 2012 and expects a further 2,369 rooms in the coming two years. The days of having trouble getting a room, let alone a luxury room, are thus long gone.
So as Qantas revs its engines in preparation for a flight that will bring Perth to the world, Perth is preparing for its new role as western gateway to Australia. The only problem I see, is the poor Brits on the flight won’t just want to stopover in Perth, they’ll want to stay.
And who could blame them?
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