Desperate premier Mark McGowan embarks on world tour of at least SIX countries to convince tourists to return to Western Australia after it locked out everyone else for two years
- Premier Mark McGowan and deputy premier Roger Cook to visit six countries
- Pair will convince tourists to Western Australia after borders finally reopened
- State closed borders in 2020 and were last to reopen them during pandemic
Mark McGowan and his deputy premier Roger Cook will visit six countries in seven months to convince tourists to visit Western Australia.
The WA premier will go with Mr Cook to the UK in June and visit Italy, South Korea, and Japan later on his own while Mr Cook will travel to Indonesia, Germany, and India.
The ‘Reconnect WA tour’ aims to draw in tourists and migrants after they were banned from the state when borders shut in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic.
Mark McGowan and his deputy premier Roger Cook will visit six countries in seven months to convince tourists to visit Western Australia
The ‘Reconnect WA tour’ aims to draw in tourists and migrants after they were banned from the state when borders shut in 2020 because of the Covid pandemic
Delta outbreaks locked out most of the east coast for more than nine months and Omicron led to all other states being banned from November and December.
Mr McGowan stubbornly kept his hard border up even as the rest of the world learned to live with the virus, even cancelling a planned reopening date on February 5 until WA’s own outbreak rendered the issue moot.
Western Australia finally reopened its borders to visitors in March 2022.
‘The McGowan Government is embarking on trade and investment missions to let the rest of the world know that WA is safe, we are the strongest economy in the country, we are full of opportunities and we’re open for business,’ Mr Cook told The Sunday Times.
‘I will be making two major trips to Europe and India in the coming months to drive WA business opportunities and tourism.
‘The European trip will be focused on London Tech Week, skilled migration, trade and investment, tourism and space, as well as an event showcasing WA.’
Mr McGowan will meet with tourism and trade representatives and key banking and finance investors when he visits the UK.
Most of the visitors to Western Australia came from the UK before the pandemic.
Some 141,600 British people travelled to the state and spent $249 million.
The state’s tourist attractions include Nature’s Window, Ningaloo Reef Marine Park and Rottnest Island with its furry and loveable quokkas.
‘Increasing the number of visitors from overseas is a priority, which is why a focus of Reconnect WA has been on re-establishing key aviation routes with airline partners,’ Mr Cook said.
Most of the visitors to Western Australia came from the UK before the pandemic (pictured, Nature’s Window at Kalbarri National Park)
Mr McGowan will also be trying to firm up trade relations when he visits South Korea and Japan.
The two countries are Western Australia’s largest trading partners.
Mr Cook will lead a trade and investment mission with a large business delegation when he visits India in July.
Businesses are desperate for workers as skills shortages cripple the industry.
Mineral Resources boss Chris Ellison said he would increase wages from $40,000 to $120,000 in a bid to draw in more workers.
WA existed as a virtual hermit state when it shut its borders, with businesses forced to close from a lack of tourists and foreign staff while families grieved a forced separation from loved ones in other states and abroad.
Western Australia finally reopened its borders to visitors in March 2022
While there were some compassionate exemptions made within that time, they were very few and far between.
Mr McGowan acknowledged the hard border greatly affected many people but insisted it was necessary in a lengthy post on Facebook in March.
‘The hard border was never about politics, and it was definitely never about the silly notion of secession (from the rest of Australia),’ he wrote.
‘It was about the value we placed on the lives of Western Australians, and the lengths we were willing to go to in order to protect them.
‘It had been over a hundred years since Western Australia last had a hard border to keep out the Spanish Flu.