Sat, 02 Jul 2022

SYDNEY, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The government of the state of Western Australia (WA) is preparing the first-ever non-stop service between Australia and Continental Europe this week, in the hopes the link will bring new avenues for its tourism.

The non-stop flight between Perth and Rome would take just over 16 hours and will kick off with a test flight on Wednesday before the start of official services from Saturday, which will run three times weekly between June and October.

WA Premier Mark McGowan is set to see off the inaugural flight on Saturday, which has received funding through the state's Reconnect WA package, which has allocated 195 million Australian dollars (about 136 million U.S. dollars) to restart the state's COVID-19 ravaged tourism sector.

"The direct service between Perth and Rome will create many new opportunities between Western Australia and Continental Europe, including a huge boost for our tourism industry which will further diversify the economy and support jobs, investment and business opportunities," said McGowan on Tuesday.

The seasonal route is expected to attract more than 3,700 extra visitors to Perth over the next two years and generate approximately 7.7 million Australian dollars (about 5.4 million U.S. dollars) for the local economy.

Before the pandemic, WA would see nearly 150,000 visitors from Continental Europe each year, however, the state's strict border closures halted international tourism.

Since it opened its borders at the beginning of March, the state has pushed to revitalize its tourism industry -- the key economic driver generated 11 billion Australian dollars (about 7.7 billion U.S. dollars) and supported over 100,000 local jobs in 2019.

WA Tourism Minister Roger Cook hoped the new link would signal to the world that "Western Australia is well and truly open for business and open for tourism."

"Continental Europe is an important tourism market for Western Australia ... The launch affirms Perth as the Western gateway to our country and is an important new connection to improve international access to the state," said Cook.

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