Tourism holds up in region
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.