Mid West tourism, business community frustrated by border backflip, MP says

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Nationals MP Vince Catania.
Camera IconNationals MP Vince Catania. Credit: Kelsey Reid/The West Australian

A new date for the reopening of State borders must be announced to allow the Mid West tourism and small business industries to plan for an influx of consumers, Member for North West Central Vince Catania says.

Mr Catania said the Premier’s sudden “backflip” on the border reopening date had been a blow to the businesses which worked hard to meet COVID vaccine mandates and other requirements before February 5.

“Those tourism and business operators have now been left without any clear plan or direction on what the change to an indefinite re-opening date means for them,” he said.

“Industry deserves certainty after shouldering the brunt of snap lock-downs to keep our State safe, generally announced with little time for them to pivot their businesses or face significant financial losses.”

Mr Catania refuted comments from the Premier suggesting tourism companies had been “going gangbusters”, saying many Mid West businesses were buckling under workforce shortages.

“The Premier should know that for many accommodation providers, ‘fully booked’ means occupancies of 50 to 60 per cent, with no staff to clean rooms, and restaurants have had to reduce trading hours by 20 to 30 hours a week due to worker shortages,” he said.

“There has been a loss of consumer confidence and reluctance by travelers to roll bookings over or re-book at a later date, increasing the number of cancellations and refund requirements for companies.

“Along with stretched supply chains, compounded by locked State and international borders, this is hardly a situation that could be described as ‘gang-buster’.”

Premier Mark McGowan said a review of State border controls would be conducted next month.

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