Shadow Minister for Tourism Vince Catania has described Labor responses to Budget Estimates questions relating to tourism as ‘disappointing and bordering on irresponsible while failing to address key areas in urgent need of assistance.’

Mr Catania said despite our State’s record $5.6 billion budget surplus during a pandemic, the Labor Government had failed to help remediate ongoing obstacles and risks stifling businesses, communities and services across WA.

“Surely media coverage, Opposition questioning and vocal stakeholders highlighting struggling tourism business issues and impacts would have raised a flag for the Government,” Mr Catania said.

“Staff and worker accommodation shortages reached crisis point across regions months ago in many locations such as Exmouth, Coral Bay, Shark Bay, Kalbarri and Broome – where operators and service providers are physically exhausted, mentally fatigued and unable to meet demand.

“Business operators and volunteers have brazenly worn financial and mental challenges of lockdown simply to safeguard WA, and in return, this Labor Government provides no dividend for their efforts.”

Mr Catania said refusing to address critical issues faced by communities erred on the side of irresponsible, and clearly exposes Labor’s absence in regional WA.

“Speaking to key decision makers in regional WA is essential to understanding what is needed, but Labor refuses to step enough outside the metro area to comprehend the holistic needs and risks across the State’s tourism industry.

“Questions posed to the Minister for Tourism in relation to crucial issues impeding businesses and communities and impacting visitors, including the worker and accommodation shortages, along with the reputation of the State’s Tourism Industry were again glossed over”.

“The Minister glossed over worker and accommodation shortages that is a crucial impediment on tourism operators and steered away from the fact essential services to keep visitors safe are just not there and seemingly have not been considered as a risk and a necessity.

“It’s reprehensible for the Labor Government to leave locations such as Coral Bay with up to 7000 people in the settlement at times, without a resident doctor or police officers and with very limited and stressed community rescue service volunteers.

Mr Catania said the State Government needed an urgent and creative strategy to find homes for workers along with safe and clear pathways into our State from interstate or overseas to quickly address an escalating critical work shortage.

“Clearly this is a Labor Government that is not prepared to listen or understand the risks and challenges of living or visiting the bush – and to add salt to the wound, the Premier’s answer is to take away our regional voices all together.”