Last week UDIA WA hosted our Developing Destination WA One-Day Summit which provided a variety of interesting and useful information around how we can make Western Australia THE place to live, work, play and invest.

This was also the theme of our final session which looked at Pathways to a Progressive State with WAPC Chair David Caddy, Tourism WA A/Executive Director for Destination Development Renata Lowe and Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation Deputy Director General, Strategy and International Engagement Simone Spencer.

David Caddy kicked off the session with an overview of the State Development Assessment Unit (SDAU) to date following the announced extension of the pathway until December 2023.

“To date the commission has approved 18 of the 50 applications that have been lodged through the Part 17 pathway, which translates into more than $1.8 billion in development, and more than 12,000 new jobs,” Mr Caddy said.

He said of those 18, 6 were already completed or under construction with the other 32 applications at various stages of the assessment process.

He then went on to highlight the aim for next stage of planning reform with the State Government looking to create a contemporary and streamlined planning system that makes great places for people, is easier to understand, navigate and is consistent and efficient.

“I’m confident that the planning reforms will help to deliver the tools Western Australia needs to create appealing, vibrant and thriving communities and tourist destinations,” Mr Caddy said.

Following Mr Caddy’s presentation, Ms Lowe from Tourism WA gave an impassioned presentation about the proposition WA offers as a destination of choice and highlighting the role tourism will play for the future of WA as the world opens up again following COVID.

“Western Australia is without doubt, an otherworldly destination,” she said. “A vast, extraordinary place bounding with natural beauty from our coast to our beautiful Outback to our forest areas of our Southwest to the magical night sky, and of course to our ancient, strong, and still living Aboriginal culture.

“And it’s because of these extraordinary natural assets, such as our incredible, beautiful living colours in our landscapes, these natural canvases, our rich connection between our culture, our people, our land and our animals that makes Western Australia such a bucket list destination for our visitors.

“Tourism is a really important economic and social portfolio for our progressive state. Tourism creates jobs, it creates that vibrancy and it creates a positive reputation for Western Australia.”

Through her presentation Ms Lowe highlighted the successful marketing campaigns that have encouraged locals to Wonder out Yonder over the past couple of years and hinted at a new campaign set to hit the market soon however she was keen to pose a question for those attending the session.

“I know that we’ve got a room here of planners and architects also consultants that work in that land assembly area and I’m calling upon yourselves to look at what you can do to help us promote tourism in this progressive state.

“Tourism WA are developing Destination Management Plans which are basically a blueprint for developing each of the five regions and these plans include the priorities for each destination and if I was a consultant working on a particular project within these areas, I would be looking at these plans and see if my projects are fitting into these priorities.”

Ms Lowe said one of the key elements that have featured strongly in these Destination Management Plans are the need for blockbuster attractions, building on previous attractions such as the Busselton Jetty, the Anzac Centre, the Dolphin Discovery Centre and the Skyhawk facility in Kalbarri which has encouraged a 147% increase in visitation to the area since opening in June 2020.

Finishing off the session and the Summit was the task of Ms Spencer who took on the mantle from Ms Lowe in promoting what WA has to offer as a destination of choice.

Ms Spencer spoke on the need for WA to diversify its economy away from its reliance on mining and thanks to the strong economic and fiscal base provided by mining, WA was in a strong position to pursue diversification objectives.

“The future for Western Australia is brimming with opportunity and our future is very, very bright,” she said. “There’s been a shift of economic power into our timezone, there’s increasing global demand for natural resources, more so than ever with what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine and there is an enormous global imperative to decarbonize.

“Finally, there is a revolution. And I use that word really, really, pointedly. There’s a revolution happening in energy, computing power, data, communications and robots. Leaning on that strength we have in mining, we always say that if you can do mining underground, 1km underground with a robot, it actually helps you do stuff in space. So that sort of advanced technology that we have in that sector using that in other sectors will be really important.”

Ms Spencer said it was imperative that we have a coordinated and strategic approach to supporting industry to adapt to these new trends and promote what we in Western Australia have to offer and help create a future that’s ready for an agile workforce.

“We need people to not only have the skills but we need the flexibility for people to move between jobs and those jobs to have long-term prospects.

“It’s certainly the government’s vision that WA be at the forefront of a cleaner, greener and smarter economy that provides sustainable growth through well paying jobs.

“We have a fantastic story to tell and one that engages our incredible natural assets, including our Aboriginal culture, but also empowers our people to be proud to be from Western Australia. We’re a very small jurisdiction in terms of population but we definitely punch above our weight and that’s the story that we need to tell the world really more clearly.”