Gambling on cruise ships will be permitted for intrastate cruises and within 12 nautical miles of the Western Australian coastline under changes outlined by Premier and Tourism Minister Colin Barnett.
First flagged when he took on the Tourism portfolio in April 2016, Mr Barnett said he had been working with Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt to lift the restrictions which kept cruise ship gaming floors closed when travelling between WA ports or within 12 nautical miles of the coast.
It was one of three announcements the Premier made during the opening of the 2016 WA Tourism Conference, including changes to liquor control regulations and a new marketing agreement with Qantas.
“Cruise ships are crucial to growing the State’s tourism industry. The number of cruise ships coming to Fremantle has more than tripled since 2012-13 when 17 ships brought 49,000 passengers to the port city. In 2015-16, 58 ships berthed at Fremantle with 152,000 passengers,” he said.
“Lifting these gaming restrictions will make the State more attractive as a destination for cruise companies, which generate more than $275 million for the local economy.”
Mr Holt said the existing provision that it must be a scheduled deep water cruise would still apply along with a new provision that gaming on a ship must be an ancillary service, meaning ‘casino cruises’ would remain banned.
“Moreover, these changes aim to boost the attractiveness and viability of regional WA’s port destinations to cruise operators and subsequently bring more tourists to our regional towns,” Mr Holt said.
Mr Barnett also told the conference that the Liberal National Government would be changing liquor control regulations to exempt a tourism business from requiring a liquor licence to supply alcohol to visitors in the course of providing a tourism service.
“This has placed restrictions on tourism operators from providing customers with a beer or wine while watching the sunset, or sitting around a campfire at the end of an adventure tour,” he said.
Mr Holt said the changes to the regulations would reduce red tape and improve conditions in which the tourism industry operated.
The Premier also revealed to the 400-strong audience that the State Government, through Tourism WA, and Qantas, had entered into a new $7.2 million marketing deal over three years that was expected to bring thousands of visitors to the State.
Mr Barnett said the agreement would be used to promote inbound travel to WA from the east coast, Singapore, the United States and New Zealand, and to encourage wider dispersal through flights to Broome, Exmouth and other regional destinations.
“Perth is going through a once in 100 year transformation thanks to unprecedented public and private investment,” he said.
“It’s important for us to activate the new infrastructure – the hotels, bars, restaurants and public spaces – with leisure and business visitors.”