Western Australia has found an important new ally in its fight to gain extra direct air services with Japan.
Deputy Premier Ian Taylor said today that WA's Japanese Sister-State - Hyogo Prefecture - now wanted to join forces and lobby for a new air link.
"Naturally enough the Hyogo Government wants the new air link to be created between Perth and Hyogo - using the region's soon-to-be-built international airport, Kansai, in Osaka Bay," Mr Taylor said.
"But our analysis suggests that a Kobe link would offer us the best potential to open up a new multi-million dollar tourism market."
Mr Taylor said the decision to lobby jointly was taken at a meeting of the Hyogo/Western Australia Economic Exchange Committee in Kobe.
The committee was established as part of the Sister-State agreement to further develop trade links. WA was represented at the talks by Dr Ross Field, of the Department for State Development; Mr Michael Walker, WA's official Northern Asian representative; Mr Ross McLean, the deputy executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Mr Nevil Jones, Asia sales manager for Bunnings.
"Importantly the decision has been taken on the eve of bilateral discussions between the Australian and Japanese governments on air services," the Deputy Premier said.
"The meeting in December is to decide on access to Kansai airport when it opens in 1994. As you can see, if we are to secure a place for Perth in those deliberations then we have to act now."
Mr Taylor said a recent analysis of Japanese tourist traffic with Australia had demonstrated just how important Hyogo was becoming to the Western Australian tourism industry.
"Today, 35 per cent of Japanese tourists visiting WA come from Japan's western region," he said.
"Unfortunately for most of them, making the trip is not easy.
"To get here they usually have to travel via Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney.
"Not only does that represent a huge waste in time, but a serious deterrent to tourism development."
Mr Taylor said of the 27,000 tourists who visited WA each year only a third were able to obtain direct flights.
"There is absolutely no doubt that more direct flights would bring in more tourists," he said.