Tourism WA has defended the decision to close its office in Seoul, despite figures showing a surge of interest in WA from Korean tourists.

The latest Tourism Research Australia figures show a 24.2 per cent increase in the number of Korean tourists coming to WA in the 12 months to June this year - from 9900 to 12,300 people.

The Seoul office closed on July 1 as part of the Barnett Government's cost-cutting regime.

Despite the new figures, Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said maintaining the Seoul office was still not viable because overall tourist numbers had declined in recent years.

But shadow tourism minister Paul Papalia said the decision was a mistake.

"These new figures confirm the incredible incompetence of the Barnett Government to cut the South Korean office when it has clearly been successful in attracting much-needed tourists to WA," he said.

The latest figures also show a continuation in the dramatic decline in Japanese tourists to WA.

The number fell from 24,000 to 19,000 in 2012-13 but has decreased from about 40,000 in the past 10 years.

Ms Buckland said the decline was because of factors including the lack of direct flights between Perth and Japan, natural disasters in Japan in 2011 and the global financial crisis.

"Tourism WA and Perth Airport are in talks with airlines with the aim of re-establishing a direct Perth-Japan route," she said.

But Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall said WA was clearly missing out on its market share of Asian tourists.

"We should be doing better in Japan, Korea, Indonesia and China but that's not going to happen without the State Government increasing investment in marketing WA," Mr Hall said.

The West Australian

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