Travel sector’s support plea
While many businesses across the Pilbara are getting back on their feet following COVID-19, Karratha’s only travel agency is still struggling with the lack of funding available to their industry.
Helloworld Travel Karratha owner Cassie Perry said there was no targeted support for travel agents in WA, aside from JobKeeper, to help keep them afloat.
“That has been a real problem for us. There are grants available for small businesses with a payroll between $1 and $4 million, but for us there hasn’t been anything,” she said. “We are the only State not to receive State funding for travel agents.
“Basically we are all just working for free at the moment. We are not making any money. Our business is 97 per cent down. It’s costing me my personal money to be able to operate.”
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Ms Perry attempted to express her concerns to Tourism and Small Business Minister Paul Papalia when he attended a Karratha business breakfast briefing, however Mr Papalia left the event before Ms Perry gave her presentation.
“I was gutted. My speech was written around speaking to him. Basically he just got up and left. It was pretty disappointing,” she said.
Mr Papalia said he was aware travel agents were doing it tough.
“Travel agents are a select sector. Sadly, 90 per cent of their revenue is generated by West Australians flying overseas. Now that’s not my objective normally, I am the Western Australian tourism minister so I like to have people come and stay here. So it was never really an issue that we confronted as a responsibility of the State Government. We are working on something. I am very aware and very sensitive to the issues of travel agents. It’s not really a tourism portfolio issue ... they (travel agents) are not really bringing other people to WA like I am focused on. That aside, I care for them ,I am the Small Business minister.” Ms Perry said it was a misconception that she did not increase WA tourism, however she was feeling positive after Premier Mark McGowan visited her during his Karratha trip.
“We sell a lot of WA,” she said.
“I feel a little more encouraged or feel like there might be something in the pipeline for us with Mark McGowan coming in. It gives me a little bit of hope anyway.”
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