International arrivals to Western Australia languish at a third of pre-COVID levels

Months after the reopening of the Western Australian border, the number of international visitors to the state is still only a third of pre-pandemic levels – with tourism businesses expecting to have to wait two years for a full recovery.

When the pandemic first hit and international borders were closed, overseas travelers disappeared, leaving tourism operators scrambling to adapt.

There was a silver lining when borders reopened in March and the number of international visitors to Perth jumped by more than 400%.

But the recovery has been slow, with international arrivals at 30-35% of pre-pandemic levels, and many tourism businesses have remained struggling.

Amy Stutt’s skydiving business was thrown into uncertainty when international travel stopped and wiped out more than 75% of its clientele.

Amy Stutt smiling standing in front of a small plane.
Amy Stutt is trying to target more domestic tourists. (ABC News: Jon Sambell)

“At the very beginning of the pandemic, it was very devastating,” Ms Stutt said.

“About 45% of our customers were from mainland China (…) so our business was affected much earlier than many other tourism businesses,” she said.

Companies forced to adapt or die

While government assistance in the form of JobKeeper was able to get them through the first winter period of lockdown and border closures, the business had to adapt to survive.

“We needed to see how we could better meet local market needs,” Ms. Stutt said.

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