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New data released from Tourism Research Australia has revealed that the number of Chinese visitors to Western Australia soared by 57.5 per cent in 2011.

Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall has attributed part of the increase of special State Government funding of $5.2 million to market WA in China.

“When you invest in tourism marketing you get a huge pay off,” he said. “The Government has done a great job investing in China tourism.

“Budget funding now needs to be increased for other international and interstate markets where we are losing market share.”

The International Visitor Survey showed that business travel was up 18.6 per cent but leisure tourism was only up 3.8 per cent.

Over the past year UK visitor numbers to Western Australia were down by 7.4% and visitors from Japan had also decreased by 15.7%.

“This loss of visitors from the UK and Japan over the past year cost the WA economy $31 million in visitor spending alone,” Mr Hall said.

“Currently the WA Government has the second lowest level of tourism investment amongst all the State and Territories.”

Last week Tourism Council WA launched the “tourism 4 tomorrow” (T4T) campaign, calling for an additional $27 million per annum to market WA.

“We are asking the Government to make tourism a State priority and to recognise the importance of tourism in the WA economy” Mr Hall said.

The Tourism and Transport Forum said the figures showed spending by international tourists to Australia rose 2.5 per cent in 2011, despite the strength of the Australian dollar and economic challenges confronting many of our key source markets.
Chief executive John Lee said the increases in spending and nights was positive news for tourism operators.

“Spending by international visitors continues to grow, even though their buying power has been reduced by the strength of our currency,” Mr Lee said.