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

Months on from Western Australia’s border reopening, 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 slammed shut, overseas travelers vanished, leaving tourism operators scrambling to adapt.

There was a glimmer of hope when borders reopened in March, and the number of international visitors to Perth shot up more than 400 percent.

But the recovery has been slow, with international arrivals sitting at 30 to 35 percent of pre-pandemic levels, and many tourism businesses left struggling.

Amy Stutt’s skydiving business was left flailing in uncertainty when international travel stopped and caused more than 75 per cent of her customer base to disappear.

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

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

“Around 45 per cent of our customers were from mainland China … so our business was affected a lot earlier than a lot of other tourism businesses,” she said.

Businesses forced to adapt, or die

While government aid in the form of JobKeeper was able to see them through the first winter period of lockdowns and closed borders, the business needed to adapt to survive.

“We needed to have a look at how we could better serve the local market,” Ms Stutt said.

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