Not only has international tourism effectively stopped for two years, WA has had the strictest domestic border policies and Premier Mark McGowan last month dealt the industry another blow when he abandoned the state’s planned February 5 reopening.

No new reopening date has been set.

“I’m not confident of any international people coming here because if they’ve got to quarantine at their own expense, who wants to do that?” Ms Mann said.

Under WA’s constantly changing border rules and COVID-19 policies, quarantine for international and interstate travellers will be halved to seven days from Wednesday at a “suitable premise”. Two rapid antigen tests will be given to travellers on arrival at Perth Airport as part of mandatory testing on day one and seven, with up to 12 months’ jail or fines of up to $50,000 for failing to register a positive test.

Unvaccinated international travellers will still have to do 14 days hotel quarantine under WA’s approach, which Qantas chief Alan Joyce has compared to North Korea given travel from other states to London will soon be easier than to Perth.

Asked whether the state government would support struggling businesses following the federal government’s reopening to foreign tourists, Mr McGowan on Tuesday issued a warning for them to be “careful what they wish for”.

In contrast, the NSW government backed the February 21 reopening as a “massive boost” for tourism, investment and trade, and the Queensland government unveiled its first major tourism campaigns in more than 18 months.

“We’ve had the strongest tourism numbers in Western Australia of anywhere in Australia and anywhere in history over the last two years because we kept COVID out,” Mr McGowan said.

“When you get large community spread of COVID, it’s not good for the tourism industry. So, I think people need to be careful what they wish for because lots of cases actually hurts the economy and hurts retail, hurts hospitality and hurts jobs.”

Despite Mr McGowan’s suggestion of a tourism boom in the state, operators say greater intrastate travel from WA residents doesn’t offset the hit caused by border closures because they don’t spend as much. Perth-based tourism operators have also struggled with foreign travellers being cut off.

“Although we’ve had some intrastate people travelling, it’s still not to the extent where they used to, I don’t think, because everyone is so uncertain about the future,” Ms Mann said, adding that Geraldton Air Charter has had to sell three planes as it downsized “hugely” after international travellers – particularly from China – dried up.

Ms Edie said IHG’s WA hotels have been significantly affected by the border closures, and it was time for the government to reopen the state after two years of doing its best to keep the community safe.

“At some point we’ve got to get back to normal and everyone is looking forward to that,” she said. “We just need to join again and align with the rest of the country. What the industry needs now is just some consistency.”

Goldman Sachs analyst Darshana Nair Syama said the “key inhibitor” to travel recovering was “government restrictions in various regions” and the federal government’s international border plans represented further progress.

Tourism Council WA declined to comment but in December called for greater financial support for “distressed businesses”.


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