Tourism holds up in re­gion

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

The Mar­garet River re­gion has fared bet­ter than WA in the lat­est vis­i­tor fig­ures, de­spite in­creas­ing chal­lenges in the Perth mar­ket and con­cerns about the Govern­ment drop­ping its 2020 tourism growth tar­gets.

As hol­i­day­mak­ers headed in droves to Bali this week, ig­nor­ing con­cerns about a vol­canic erup­tion, fig­ures from Tourism Re­search Aus­tralia showed daytrip­pers from Perth were at their high­est lev­els yet, up to 1.191 mil­lion visi­tors.

But overnight visi­tors from over­seas, in­ter­state and Perth were all down on last year’s stel­lar re­sult.

Mar­garet River-Bus­sel­ton Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Har­ri­son said the re­gion “bucked State trends”, with WA over­all see­ing a drop in daytrip­pers and in­ter­state tourists.

“The fact that in­ter­state vis­i­ta­tion has held steady for the re­gion, against the de­cline of 12 per cent ex­pe­ri­enced by the State, shows that the re­gion has strong ap­peal for the in­ter­state mar­ket, and bodes well ahead of the devel­op­ment of the air­port,” he said.

“The es­tab­lish­ment of the air­line route, and an as­so­ci­ated mar­ket­ing pro­gram, should see this mar­ket ramp up sig­nif­i­cantly in fu­ture.”

Mr Har­ri­son said oper­a­tors had backed up re­ports of a slight de­cline in visi­tors dur­ing the last year. Tourism WA put some of the State re­sult down to the “soft­en­ing of the WA econ­omy”.

Shadow tourism spokes­woman Libby Met­tam said the stronger re­sult for the Mar­garet River re­gion, which in­cludes her Vasse elec­torate, un­der­scored the need to in­vest in events and des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing, with fears the Gourmet Es­cape would be lost to in­ter­state in­ter­ests, and La­bor’s tourism pol­icy was more fo­cused on fill­ing Perth ho­tel rooms.

“I am very con­cerned that the McGowan Govern­ment has al­ready aban­doned the Lib­eral-led Govern­ment goal of build­ing tourism spend to $12 bil­lion by 2020, given pro­jected tourism spend for this year is $10.3 bil­lion,” she said.

TWA said $85 mil­lion a year was al­lo­cated to des­ti­na­tion mar­ket­ing and event tourism dur­ing the next five years.

No car­rier has yet been iden­ti­fied as com­mit­ted to reg­u­lar flights to the ex­panded Bus­sel­ton Air­port.

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