From the CEO, June 2019

Published:

I love to travel both for work and pleasure, and this last trip of 5 weeks was simply unforgettable. Bumping in to two Perth people whilst on holiday goes to show how many of us make a pilgrimage overseas during our colder months.

Whilst WA is investing in growing its visitor numbers, I experienced over tourism in Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia as well as Prague in the Czech Republic. It seems that there is tipping point that comes with becoming a popular tourist destination when a city groans under the pressure of tourists and negatively affects the quality of life of its citizens.

It’s a good problem to have and a difficult problem to manage.

The most prominent case in point is Venice. A historic city described as a living museum and a must-visit destination. It attracts more than 2 million tourists a year to visit a city of 60,000 people in a region with a population of a quarter of a million. Given the volume of visitors, the small, dense island simply can’t cope and its residents are getting frustrated and angry. Among them is a growing anti-tourist sentiment with talk about a fee to gain entry in order to fund upgrades to infrastructure and facilities and perhaps even deter some from coming. Whilst tourism drives the Venetian economy, jobs not related to the industry are in decline with the costs of housing, transportation and food all going up and as a result, locals are being displaced.

From this year’s holiday, even in the shoulder season Split and Dubrovnik were overrun with sightseers, many fixated on visiting Game of Thrones locations for a selfie. In Prague, people are attracted to visit for the architecture, beer and culture and none of these disappoint. Yet while navigating the narrow crowded streets during the day with large guided groups consuming too much space, I could only imagine how the locals must feel as they try to go about their daily lives.

I flew into London for my final few days and on one of those I facilitated the first focus group for our Hashtag Perth project. Agent General, Mike Deeks brought together a variety of people who have an affinity with Perth in order to get their perceptions from afar as one of the many efforts to understand Perth’s reputation.

Next month we will release the results of an extensive survey that Ipsos has undertaken for us which captures the perceptions of local residents as well as those in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland and Singapore. Work is also underway on examining Perth’s reputation through electronic word of mouth and areas of natural beauty including Kings Park and the Swan River top the list of must see places. 

Also in May, the Minister for Women’s Interests, the Hon. Simone McGurk MLA attended a special event for our Executive Women’s Leadership Forum at which we shared our aspirations for the next generation of women. Workshops are being held across the state and we were very pleased to host the Minister and her Advisor to hear firsthand that equality and equity for all is our shared vision.

As the month draws to a close, I wanted to share with you that in support of Reconciliation WA we, along with many other organisations, participated in the largest reconciliation event in the country last Friday with 1250 people at Crown representing the most diverse of groups. What a wonderful coming together to advance such an important initiative.

On that positive note, until next month.

Marion Fulker 
CEO
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, UWA


Other articles from Insight, June 2019 (view email newsletter):