Perth aims to shake off negative perceptions

Kent Acott and Angela PownallThe West Australian
VideoThousands of people in Australia and the world will be surveyed as part of a project to improve Perth's perception

A difficult place to do business. A suburban rather than urban, lively student experience. Failing to attract its share of tourists. An unsophisticated city.

Research has shown that these are some of the negative perceptions that work against Perth developing a reputation that has global appeal.

The Committee for Perth, the Perth Airport and the University of WA have embarked on a two-year project to find out how to improve the city’s reputation.

After reviewing research, the Hashtag Perth project will soon begin a survey of thousands of people in WA, Australia and overseas to find out the WA capital’s current reputation.

Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker said the project would then develop strategies to improve Perth’s reputation in a bid to benefit the economy and make the city more competitive globally.

“When the world is on our doorstep, like when we had the Empire (Commonwealth) Games, the America’s Cup, when we turned on the lights for John Glenn the astronaut, we really put ourselves on the map and delivered on the promise.

“People say Perth’s a great place, a hidden secret, a piece of paradise,” she said.

“But it’s like when you have visitors come for Christmas and you spruce the house up, then collapse when they leave and ignore it for a year. We do this major effort but we just can’t sustain it.”

Ms Fulker said Perth had also failed to give enough attention to struggling industries, like tourism, when other areas of the economy, such as the resources sector, were doing well.

“I don’t think it’s a single reputation. There are multiple reputations so we’ve got to be talking to different markets in different ways,” she said.

“For too long, our story was just come and see our great beaches, beautiful weather, drink our great wine and eat our great food. Well, a lot of cities have that as a value proposition. We’ve got to find what’s different to us.”

Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said many of the perceptions of Perth were out of date and this project would form the backbone of a new narrative for the city.

“This is not about creating something we’re not,” he said.

“Rather, it’s about being true to ourselves; identifying what’s true and what’s not and illustrate the advances Perth has made over recent years.

“The scientific approach being adopted by this project will build a solid platform from which we can build a genuine narrative for the city and why its such a great place to live, work, visit and invest in.”

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