Local government had to come to grips with tourism as an industry and the role it could play in the lifestyle and economy of local communities, Tourism Minister Pam Beggs said today.
"The local community is the first beneficiary of the tourist dollar, but the extent of this benefit strongly depends on the effort the local community and council put back into the tourism industry," Mrs Beggs said.
She was speaking at a tourism seminar organised by the Western Australian Municipal Association in York.
Mrs Beggs said that while local government had played a largely unacknowledged part in supporting the tourism industry, some councils saw tourism as an impost on the local community.
However, other councils struck a tourism levy in their rate structure to support local tourism initiatives.
"Unfortunately, some councils do not see tourism in the same light but rather sit back and expect somebody else to pick up the tab," the Minister said.
"The development and promotion of tourism has to be regarded as a partnership.
"For example, while the private sector has a primary role in developing and operating tourism enterprises, the State Government has an active role to play in providing the funds to market WA as an appealing tourist destination."
Mrs Beggs said people involved in tourism in regional areas had to be aware that the State's single biggest market for tourists was Perth.
"Intrastate tourism accounts for approximately two thirds of the total tourism expenditure which now is $3 billion a year," she said.
"The new regional tourism promotion unit being set up in the Tourism Commission's head office in Perth will concentrate on marketing the regions to our biggest tourism market, which is Perth.
"However, the Commission will still continue to promote the regions in its interstate and international markets as it has done successfully for the past 10 years."
Mrs Beggs said the regional tourism promotion unit would be a performance-based operation, with the very clear role of working with the industry to increase the number of tourists travelling through regional areas.
It meant resources could be put into the market which generated the visitors, rather than in the destination to which the visitors travelled.
Mrs Beggs said local agencies involved in tourism such as regional travel associations, country tourist bureaux and tourist information centres, would continue to receive funding through the Commission for local projects.