Flights snub frustrates Pilbara tourism push

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Virgin Australia and the State Government aim to increase visitation to the Kimberley but have neglected the Pilbara.
Camera IconVirgin Australia and the State Government aim to increase visitation to the Kimberley but have neglected the Pilbara. Credit: Getty Images

The Pilbara has again been snubbed in a tourism deal between a major airline and the State Government that is only focused on Perth and the Kimberley.

The State Government last week announced a new marketing partnership with Virgin Australia to attract more tourists from the east coast to WA.

However, the only regional destinations being promoted through sale fares and holiday packages are Broome and Kununurra.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia defended the arrangement, saying the Government did plenty to market the Pilbara.

“The Pilbara is an important regional destination for WA, which is why it features heavily in our brand and co-operative marketing activity,” he said. “It was a key feature of our Road Trips campaign and Karijini National Park features regularly on our social media channels.”

But North West Central MLA Vince Catania said flights were the best mode of transport to the Pilbara and Gascoyne, so drive campaigns simply were not enough.

“The State Government needs to show some consideration to the Pilbara, which is the engine room of our economy,” he said.

“How about they take some of the royalties they receive from the Pilbara and use that to subsidise flights to make them more affordable and in line with destinations like Broome.”

Australia’s North West chief executive Natasha Mahar said the Pilbara was an important part of the State.

“From the friendly visitor centres, galleries, tour options, natural wonders, rock art, beaches and gorges, there’s so much happening,” she said. “It’s definitely on our promotional radar and you will see more creative campaigns.”

Minister Papalia argued the McGowan Government had done plenty in the past 12 months working on ways to make air travel to the Pilbara more affordable.

“We are continuing to work extensively with all airlines, local governments and the Pilbara community to find ways to increase services and reduce the price of airfares,” he said.

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