Tourism confidence on high
More than 100 people from 40 different businesses and organisations attended The Business Centre Pilbara’s Warlu Way Destination Pilbara event last Thursday and Friday.
The two-day conference aimed to start conversations and inspire ideas to expand the Pilbara’s tourism industry.
Representatives of the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Tourism WA, the Western Australian Aboriginal Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC), the Pilbara Development Commission and many more gave talks and presentations over the course of the conference.
There was a heavy focus on the importance on Aboriginal tourism opportunities, with many indigenous organisations in attendance.
During his presentation, Parks and Wildlife tourism and property branch manager Rod Quartermain announced the department would waive licensing fees for emerging Aboriginal tourism businesses in their first year of operation.
“We will waive all the licence fees in the first year of operation to assist (Aboriginal tour operators) getting on with the business and getting started up,” he said.
“One of the unique things that Aboriginal tourism has got is that this is the longest .......... continuous surviving culture and you have these stories that you can tell.”
Nationals leader Brendon Grylls opened the conference and highlighted the importance of show casing the region’s rich indigenous history and culture, citing the work of Ngurrangga Tours operator Clinton Walker.
“How do we in forums like this inspire more Clinton Walkers to come up with their version of that opportunity? Because there (are) so many,” he said.
“We’ve got our uniqueness, we’ve got the hook; once you’ve got your uniqueness and the hook there’s the ability to grow and expand.”
The Business Centre Pilbara chief executive Paul Jagger said, with a fluctuating resource sector, there has never been a better time than now for businesses to get into tourism in the Pilbara.
“The focus that we have in this conference is to engage and inspire people and organisations to consider tourism as the next business enterprise,” he said.
“What we’re saying is there aren’t huge projects just around the corner that are suddenly offering employment for thousands of people so when we start to look to the future we say how about tourism.
“We’ve got a beautiful region here and looking at how many tourism operators or tourism businesses there are at the moment, there are very few — it’s a blank canvas.”
Mr Jagger hailed the event a success and said the Business Centre wanted to do another similar event in the new year.
“In talking to people from the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Tourism WA, Tourism Council of WA, each of them has said to us you’ve done a good job, the content is spot on,” he said.
Brendon Grylls opened the Warlu Way conference last Thursday.