The Kimberley’s peak tourism body has urged the Federal Government to extend its $1.2 billion tourism and aviation rescue package to cover East Kimberley hotspots. Close to a million Australians will get half-price plane tickets as part of the new rescue package, designed to entice support for the industry as it comes off the JobKeeper wage subsidy at the end of the month. Just one WA destination — Broome — has been included in the package, compared to five destinations in Queensland and three in Tasmania. Speaking to the Broome Advertiser, Australia’s Northwest chief executive Natasha Maher said members supported the package as a whole, but said Kununurra should have been first in line. “The Federal Government announcement is certainly beneficial long term for Broome and its tourism industry, particularly as it focuses on the direct flights into Broome from Melbourne and Sydney, direct routes we want to continue on into the future,” she said. “Kununurra tourism operators have been one of the most severely affected local government area in the nation and they should have been number one on the list for Commonwealth support. “Other prime WA tourism locations including Karijini, Ningaloo Reef, Margaret River Region, Esperance and even Perth should have also been included.” It comes after WA Premier Mark McGowan blasted the Federal Government’s decision to only have one WA destination, a move which he said was “punishing” the State over its hard border approach. Local voices were echoed by WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, who said the announcement confirmed Canberra “doesn’t understand or care about WA”. “The part of the tourism sector in WA most in need of help are inner city hotels — this does nothing for that part of the market,” he said. “In the regions, tourism is booming with the exception of the East Kimberly and again they’re ignored.” While some East Kimberley tour operators have been left disappointed, many were hopeful State Government subsidies on Perth to Kununurra flights would encourage enough tourists to the region. Operations manager of Kununurra cruise company Triple J Tours Dylan Lodge said while all local operators would have welcomed further subsidies, it was probable they too would benefit from cheaper flights to Broome, with some tourists likely to venture to the East Kimberley. Mr Lodge said Kununurra would have seen greater benefits if Perth had received Federal Government flight subsidies. “If we can get the flights extended to Perth, that gives people avenues to get from Melbourne to Perth and then into Kununurra using all the subsidised flights that are available through whatever means.” Lake Argyle Adventures owner Josh Melville, who runs gourmet experience tours 70km south of Kununurra, said operators in the region were preparing for a busy season, despite missing out on flight subsidies. “The pre-bookings for the tourism season have been massive, so we’re hoping that borders are going to stay open and we can have a fantastic season,” Mr Melville said. “It’s not really going to affect us.” The discounted tickets will be available on airline websites from April 1.