Visitor boost for Ningaloo
■ The Ningaloo Coast’s visitor numbers have increased significantly this season, despite two cyclones earlier in the year threatening to scare people off.
Exmouth Visitor Centre reported a 12.98 per cent increase in numbers from April to October on the same period last year, a figure spokesman Ben Knaggs partly put down to a speedy recovery by the Shire of Exmouth and Ningaloo community.
“It’s pleasing to see visitation rates still high this peak season, especially since Exmouth and Coral Bay were hit by two separate cyclones just before the start of our peak season this year,” he said.
“Turtle-nesting season has just begun, coral snorkelling and manta ray swim tours are available right throughout the summer and the warmer water kick-starts some world-class game and sport fishing, particularly for marlin.”
More than 20,000 visitors swam with whale sharks from March to August, an increase of more than 7 per cent from last year.
Operators reported a 92 per cent success rate for swimming with the gentle giants.
Mr Knaggs said new experiences next year would include helmet diving, sailing tours and the humpback whale swim trial.
Exmouth Escape manager David Gillespie said occupancy had increased by about 2.5 per cent this year and next year was looking strong too.
“I think we have seen an increase across the board with families, couples, singles, a lot of eastern seaboard people and good growth in the Perth market,” he said.
“We haven’t had huge growth in the overseas market, but visitation has from there has been consistent.”
Mr Gillespie said he believed the humpback whale swim trial next year would extend the tourism season and boost numbers further.