Ongoing turmoil in WA, but Perth being been chosen to host ATE19April 19th, 2018 | | Events
WA’s Department of Jobs was formed last year as an amalgamation of several government agencies, merging Tourism WA and the departments of commerce and state development. That new structure meant Tourism WA no longer had its own dedicated chief executive.
The situation became particularly contentious when recent figures showed a decline in the number of international tourists visiting WA, which was the only state to experience a drop in numbers in 2017 in the latest international visitor survey (see graphic).
Since then WA’s Department of Jobs and Tourism director general Stephen Wood has been sacked and will be replaced. It is understood Mr Wood’s departure is not related to those tourism figures, but the actual management of the agency.
The figures did however prompt Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall to voice his concerns at the time about the loss of a dedicated chief executive. Mr Hall said he was also concerned the Tourism WA CEO position was being filled on a part-time basis by Mr Wood, who had “no prior experience in tourism”. He also said the “bureaucratisation” of the state’s tourism and education marketing had led to a lack of specialised leadership at the top of Tourism WA. The WA Liberal Party has accused the McGowan Government of using Mr Wood as a scapegoat for its poor decisions.
“This is a disgraceful decision,” Opposition tourism spokeswoman Libby Mettam said. “Stephen Wood had an impossible challenge to manage not only tourism but the other department of jobs, science and innovation.
“This is exactly the wrong response to the worst set of tourism figures WA has seen and a distraction from the real issue, which is the need for a dedicated CEO for tourism.” Mr Wood is a long-time public servant and was only appointed to the specific role leading the Department of Jobs, Science, Tourism and Innovation a year ago, when that agency was created.
In other news. Perth has been confirmed as the city (and WA the state) host for Australian Tourism Exchange 2019. The 2018 event in Adelaide SA concludes later today.