Light up the city
Bright lights, big city: The Perth skyline. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Perth must double the size of the convention centre, relax food and liquor laws and develop a spectacular "river of lights" event for the Swan to attract visitors, according to an ambitious plan to double the value of the industry in WA to $12 billion by 2020.

The Tourism Council will today reveal its comprehensive strategy to make Perth one of Australia's top four tourist destinations, creating 11,000 new jobs over the next six years.

The proposal is the result of two years of talks, forums and workshops about what needs to be done to capitalise on Perth's current "significant physical, social and cultural transformation" and see the city evolve into a major tourism destination.

It also calls for a helipad in the CBD, an "express" hotel for mid-level corporate travellers and a lyric theatre to stage big theatrical productions.

The strategy says a "river of lights" evening boat parade - with hundreds of lit boats of all shapes and sizes travelling down the river from Perth to Fremantle - was the type of homegrown event that could attract thousands of international and interstate visitors to Perth.

These visitors would view the event from Perth's top destinations such as Kings Park and Fremantle.

Council chief executive Evan Hall said Perth was a growing world-class city that needed a strategy to grow as a world-class tourist destination.

"This strategy will turn new assets like the stadium and museum into tourism export dollars and jobs," he said.

"As resource jobs decline, we need to plan for new industries.

"Our strategy will create 11,000 new jobs - more than replacing the 8000 jobs lost from the car industry."

On any night, Perth hosts more than 100,000 overnight visitors - about one in 20 people in the city.

In 2012, these people spent $4.5 billion on entertainment, food, shopping, accommodation, gaming, public transport and taxis.

The strategy said intrastate visitors were the biggest market, but international visitors spent the most because they usually stayed longer.

Visitors were heavy users of public transport and it was important for Perth to develop a safe, reliable, 24/7 network.

International experience suggested light rail was the preferred mode of transport for tourists in major cities.

But Perth also needed to establish connections between the airport, the city and visitor destinations such as universities, beaches, parks and gardens.

There also needed to be easy connections to Burswood, Fremantle, Mandurah and Armadale.

"Enhanced transport will increase local day trips, as well as attract international and national events and businesses," it said.

"International and interstate visitors will spend more and stay longer as leisure experiences become more accessible."

But the report said high-quality facilities, attractions and transport were not enough. Compelling visitor experiences also needed excellent customer service.

"Tourism, retail and hospitality businesses need to understand the needs of visitors and local customers and deliver high standards of customer information and service that meets those needs," it said.

The report recommended introducing affordable customer-service training for all front-line staff.

Online visitor tools should also be developed, with free wi-fi in key visitor destinations.

Other recommendations include:

·Develop a high-quality taxi service with improved customer service, cleanliness, presentation and vehicle uniformity.

·Build an indigenous cultural centre.

·Ensure the new sports stadium can realise its tourism potential by providing at least 10,000 seats for interstate visitors.

·Improve Victoria Quay and the Fremantle Passenger Terminal infrastructure to support the cruise market.

·Establish a super yacht boat harbour and upgrade Fisherman's Wharf.

The West Australian

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