Tourism con­fi­dence on high

Pilbara News - - News - Louise Alling­ham

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.

Pic­ture: Louise Alling­ham

Bren­don Grylls opened the Warlu Way con­fer­ence last Thurs­day.

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