It’s been a big year for Perth. Over the last 12 months, the city has made some significant steps towards fulfilling its potential as a global destination, enhancing its appeal to both international visitors and, of course, those of us who already live here.
The big news in terms of worldwide attention is that Perth – and Western Australia in general – is becoming more accessible to visitors, with all sorts of agreements in the pipeline to boost travel from abroad. In October, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia started the ball rolling by opening talks with two Japanese airlines to commence non-stop flights between Perth and Tokyo, but that’s just the tip of the direct-flight iceberg.
Groundwork has also been laid for Qantas to begin uninterrupted trips from Perth to London in March 2018, while agreements to trial single-leg flights to Shanghai by October next year are also being made. With conventional wisdom telling us that direct flights into a city can potentially double – or even triple – the amount of traffic on an airline route, it will be a massive shot in the arm for tourism and business.
Needless to say, once all those extra people have arrived, Perth aims to captivate them, and 2017 has also seen the city either constructing or planning an impressive array of infrastructure and attractions. In May, $2.3 billion was allocated to the Metronet rail expansion scheme, including $1.2 billion to first stage development including the Forrestfield Airport Link – well, those planes full of passengers have got to get to the city somehow, right? And when they do, they’ll be welcomed by major new developments including Perth Stadium and Yagan Square. A host of hotels have also been built or approved in 2017, but perhaps the biggest project on the horizon (literally) is our own World Trade Centre, with talks for its approval advancing considerably since the start of the year.
Another agreement that could feasibly change the face of transport forever was reached this year: Perth has been selected alongside Paris and an as-yet undecided US city to trial the first driverless cars. Starting in April, a limited Uber-style service will be available on private roads to test the ultimate in hands-free driving, a project that is certain to focus even more attention on our city.
And for everyone who has already realised that Perth is the place to be, 2017 has brought one last bit of good news: it is now one of the most affordable cities in Australia. Ranked the 10th most expensive city in the world five years ago, Perth is now sitting at number 49 on the charts, according to a Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre report, with WA the cheapest of the mainland Australian states. Just another boost to end the year and promise a very bright 2018 indeed.