After relying on China during the mining boom, the West Australian government is again pinning its hopes on the Asian superpower, this time for a rise in tourism and property investment.
Premier and Tourism Minister Colin Barnett has revealed a $30 million boost to events funding in the state budget, including cash for a program aimed at attracting tourists for Chinese New Year, which is in summer in Perth but winter in China.
Treasurer Mike Nahan said lunar new year celebrations in the Northbridge entertainment district, which attracted 80,000 people in February, would be expanded while special functions would be held at hotels and Crown Casino.
Dr Nahan said marketing would target students and young professionals, who would hopefully like what they saw and buy into the housing market.
He credited Victoria and NSW’s growing economies on real estate investment, particularly urban apartments, with 30 to 40 per cent purchased by overseas investors, mainly Chinese.
While Perth’s apartment supply had swelled in the past decade, the Chinese market had not been tapped enough, Dr Nahan said.
“That’s a section of the market that we’re missing. A very small proportion relative to the other places are sold overseas to Chinese,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“Part of this exercise is to draw them here, look at the city, celebrate, use our restaurants, hotels but also look to buy real estate.”
Dr Nahan said he didn’t believe West Australians would be priced out.
“That’s not a risk here. We have a substantial amount of property on the market, our prices are stagnant and also we have a large amount of potential for further expansion.
“I’m not worried about having overseas demand overheat our market.”
Most of the $30 million funding will be spent on attracting events to the new stadium while $10.7 million will go to the Perth Convention Bureau, one-third of which had been withdrawn but has been reinstated after an outcry.
Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said the marketing would not only help fill Perth’s hotel rooms, but would also encourage more to be built.
“We believe there’s another 2000 hotel rooms that can be built on top of the already existing 2000,” Mr Woods said.