WA Tourism Industry Blames Poor Performance on Free Camping

Article by · 23 August 2019 ·

In a report by the Tourism Council Western Australia, unregulated accommodation options, including free camping and Airbnb, have been blamed for a poor tourism business performance, especially around Perth, and in the south-west of the state. The results come off the back of the council’s inaugural Tourism Business Activity Survey, which surveyed over 330 tourism business operators across the state.

Each of the businesses surveyed was asked what they thought contributed to the state of tourism in their region. They cited a decrease in visitation as the most likely reason for a downturn, but the economy and unregulated accommodation options (including free camping) followed in turn. Other purposes stated for poor performance included a lack of destination marketing and unfavourable weather.

For those businesses that have seen an increase in trade, they’ve cited increased marketing by themselves, increased visitors to their area, favourable weather and recent business investments as the main reasons for growth.

Commenting on the trends, Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall wrote that, “While overall visitation is rising from the lows of 2017 and 2018, this growth in demand is not keeping pace with rising business costs, lower prices and unfair competition from unregulated offerings such as Airbnb.”

Interestingly, those businesses that expect a weaker outlook over the next three and 12 months give most credence to outside factors that will affect their business (forward bookings are down, visitation low, the weak economy and unregulated accommodation like free camping). On the other hand, those businesses with a positive outlook say that the key factors include marketing campaigns they are running, increase in visitors and forward bookings, new product offerings and investments or refurbishments. The potential takeaway is that businesses working to improve their offerings expect to enhance their income. That sentiment is echoed by Hall, who wrote, “Operators that are investing in their own product and market development are reporting stronger business activity and a more positive outlook.”

Of the businesses reporting plans to invest in their companies over the next 12 months, accommodation providers are least likely too.

The report also compared visitation numbers across the state, showing that all regions have seen an overall increase in visitors for the year. The biggest gains are in the north-west (which includes the Pilbara and the Kimberley) and the south-west (which includes Margaret River and Albany, but not Esperance).


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  • comment-avatar

    Jax K

    That headline is pure clickbait.
    Just ask Bunbury council how ALL businesses prosper with freecamps – not just tourism businesses (ie caravan parks).

  • comment-avatar


    There is no free camping around Perth !!, so don’t see how it could be a factor.

  • comment-avatar


    the people free camping need to eat, fuel up, do tourist activities too. Where do they do those activities? In the communities close to the free camping…..

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