Figures show better news for tourism
Tourism authorities in the region are breathing a sigh of relief after the latest end-offinancial-year figures showed growth in the Margaret River tourism sector despite WA continuing to fall behind almost every other State.
Tourism Research Australia’s visitor statistics breakdown for the past financial year showed a big jump — 29.9 per cent — from interstate visitors overnighting in the Margaret River region, while WA-based tourists also grew 3.5 per cent.
Last year’s visitation reeled back losses across the past three years, during which interstate overnighters grew 14 per cent, while WA-based travellers dipped 0.9 per cent across three years.
Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney lauded the recovery.
“(But) intrastate visitation over the last three years is slightly down, resulting in static domestic visitor numbers overall,” she said.
Shadow tourism minister and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said strong local numbers reinforced the need to build Busselton Airport’s passenger terminal.
“The opening of the BusseltonMargaret River Airport will be a key transformational project for the South West and the tourism industry,” she said.
“Interstate travel is the strongest growth, which again underlines the reason we had seen the previous Government’s investment in the Busselton-Margaret River Airport.
“It’s valuable to note this interstate up-kick is not a result of the Government’s campaign, which hasn’t had a chance to take effect.”
Earlier this year, the tourism sector complained about Labor’s rejig of WA’s tourism strategy, quitting the Tourism 2020 project to deliver instead a twoyear action plan that didn’t include activation of Busselton Airport, and sought to funnel visitors through Perth as the “gateway” to regional WA.
The latest figures for the State — which do not reflect the new strategy — showed a 2 per cent drop against national growth of 8 per cent.
“These figures indicate that after much bravado when coming into office over 18 months ago, tourism is still rudderless, and the issues regarding lack of leadership in this portfolio haven’t gone away,” Ms Mettam said.
Spending for WA intrastate visitors was down for the third year in a row at -4.6 per cent this past financial year, while overnight visitors for business and family trips had big jumps.
But intrastate visits to the South West overall were slightly down at -0.9 per cent.
While more interstate travellers were coming to WA (up 11.3 per cent), overnight stays decreased by 14.1 per cent.
Interstate visits to the South West rose 12.7 per cent but daytrippers dropped one per cent.
Tourism body Australia’s South West noted a downward trend in visitor spending.
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