Pokies, staffing and population are the key reasons given why prices for tourists in Busselton are up to twice those on the Sunshine Coast
The West Australian and Queensland tourism journalist John Alwyn-Jones - who sparked debate this week with an article about how expensive Perth was for tourists - compared prices in the family-friendly holiday hotspots Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast and Busselton, in WA's South West.
It found marked price differences, the most pointed of which was the cost of eating out, in particular at the cheaper end of the market, though the cost of accommodation seemed similar in both holiday towns.
But South West tourism operators yesterday dismissed suggestion of profiteering.
They said it was difficult to compare WA with Queensland, which has a bigger and more competitive tourism industry, with a higher turnover and lower staff costs.
Equinox restaurant owner Peter Gordon said casual wage rates were lower in Queensland, with Sunday rates in WA are about $28 an hour and $25 an hour in Queensland.
"My business trading exactly the same in Queensland as it does in Busselton would cost me around $50,000 less in staff wages," Mr Gordon said.
But he said he would still reject any claim the costs charged in WA were overly expensive.
Key differences were at the cheaper end of the "pub grub" market, he said.
"Pubs over east are getting people in with cheap meals but expecting people to come in and put money in the poker machines, but we don't have that revenue stream and I hope we never do."
But Tourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall said observations it was more expensive to holiday in Perth were untrue - and cited the official consumer price index statistics that domestic travel in Perth was 6 per cent cheaper than Brisbane and 11 per cent cheaper than in Sydney. But he called for schemes to allow more hospitality workers into WA, in a bid to reduce costs for tourism operators.
Alwyn-Jones said his article published on the internet site Global Travel Media about the cost of visiting, staying and living in Perth had garnered a massive reaction.In the article he recommended that tourists defer going to WA until the mining boom was over."Consumers overwhelmingly agreed Perth and other areas in WA are very expensive. Australia already is considered expensive, so high costs in Perth have to be damaging leisure tourism to WA," he said.