Grey no­mads get Hed­land tills ring­ing

Pilbara News - - News - Ben Leahy

■ There ap­pears to be a sil­ver lin­ing to Hed­land’s eco­nomic down­turn af­ter the visi­tor cen­tre es­ti­mated grey no­mads spent up to $50,000 a week this sea­son.

Port Hed­land Visi­tor Cen­tre man­ager Natasha Fry said the rough es­ti­mate was based on vol­un­tary re­ceipts dropped off by grey no­mads over a two-week pe­riod.

She said the two weeks of re­ceipts showed trav­ellers spent a to­tal of $105,000 in the lo­cal econ­omy.

“Im­por­tantly, $34,000 of this in­vest­ment was to small lo­cal busi­nesses such as the Sea­far­ers Cen­tre, lo­cal hair­dressers, newsagents and tours through the visi­tor cen­tre,” Ms Fry said. “(This) turned, what was look­ing to be the worst tourism sea­son in three years, into a sea­son that has eclipsed the last two sea­sons in visi­tor num­bers, tours and im­por­tantly, pos­i­tive feed­back.”

Ms Fry said the tourism surge was di­rectly linked to Town of Port Hed­land’s de­ci­sion to open a free over­flow camp­ground at the turf club for trav­ellers in car­a­vans and recre­ation ve­hi­cles.

Town of Port Hed­land Mayor Kelly Howlett said 47 per cent of grey no­mads sur­veyed at the visi­tor cen­tre would have passed Hed­land by if the camp­ground had not been avail­able.

“Of­fer­ing a pet-friendly, cen­tral ground … with grey­wa­ter dump point, close to lo­cal shops, restau­rants and busi­nesses en­cour­aged more peo­ple … to con­sider Port Hed­land as a des­ti­na­tion … this win­ter,” Ms Howlett said.

Hed­land tourism fig­ures last week also backed the over­flow camp­ground.

Port Hed­land Sea­far­ers Cen­tre tour guide Ray Ives said his non­profit group ran two-to-three tours a day when the camp­ground was open.

Once it closed, the group’s tour num­bers al­most dropped by half.

Ibis Styles Port Hed­land man­ager Jason Green said his ho­tel’s res­tau­rant had not only gained busi­ness, but also en­joyed the spark and at­mos­phere the tourists brought.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Aspen’s Cooke Point Hol­i­day Park and The Land­ing re­sort vil­lage also re­ported good tourist sea­sons, ac­knowl­edg­ing the over­flow ground helped to boost over­all tourist num­bers.

South Hed­land’s Black­rock Tourist Park was the only ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­ness to re­port a bad sea­son and ex­pressed con­cern the over­flow park was com­pet­ing for busi­ness.

How­ever, Ms Howlett said the Town would look to work with Black­rock to find ways to help it profit from the surge in tourists.

Ms Fry said she was keen for the over­flow camp­ground to con­tinue next year be­cause it had put Hed­land back on the map.

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