Free Wi-Fi crucial to tourism

Kent Acott

Easy access to free Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly important for international tourism, with new figures showing a marked increase in the number of overseas visitors accessing the internet while in Australia.

The Tourism Research Australia data revealed a 13 per cent increase in internet use in 2013-14, with most overseas visitors (43 per cent) using their smartphone to use the service.

Another 34 per cent used their iPad.

Visitors most often used the internet to get maps (83 per cent), information on destinations and attractions (44 per cent), restaurant guides (37 per cent), event guides (21 per cent) and for language translations (16 per cent).

The data also shows that the number of international tourists coming to WA in 2013-14 jumped 50,000 (or 6.7 per cent) on the previous year, taking the total for the year to just short of 800,000.

The figure includes a 7.3 per cent increase in people coming to WA for a holiday and a 14.5 per cent increase on those coming to visit friends or relatives.

Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall said the stand-out market for WA was now Singapore, with 16,200 more visitors.

"The introduction of new flights by low-cost carrier Scoot and lower hotel rates in Perth is driving the increase in visitors from Singapore," Mr Hall said. "As hotel rates come down, WA is becoming more competitive for leisure tourists so it is critical for the State Government to invest in marketing WA and its extraordinary experiences.

"There has also been a strong return in our traditional markets from the United Kingdom and Europe, led by a 22.8 per cent increase in German visitors.

"It seems leisure tourists from these markets are returning to holiday once again in WA."