Happy end to tough year
Local accommodation providers are fully booked around Margaret River and Busselton with some forced to turn away tourists during the Christmas-New Year period.
However, it was a tough 2018 for local tourism, with providers lamenting a downturn in visitors to the region and an oversupply of accommodation.
Joint chief officer of the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association Sharna Kearney said the region had one of the biggest accommodation areas outside of Perth, therefore the holiday period was essential to the industry.
“All accommodation available through margaretriver.com for the Christmas and New Year period has been booked out, with our reservations team unable to accommodate a number of requests,” Ms Kearney said.
“There is accommodation available after the first week of January.”
However, visitors appeared to be spending less on attractions such as the caves and lighthouses, preferring free water-based activities.
Melisande and Robert McDonald of Bushy Lakes Chalets said they had been forced to turn away eight or nine bookings over the past three weeks.
“We’re still about 10 per cent down from last Christmas but the period has been good,” Mr McDonald said.
“We’re staying positive by saying goodbye to a tough 2018 and looking forward to a prosperous 2019.”
Bushy Lake Chalets attempted to create a friendly home-style environment which was competitive with new accommodation providers such as Airbnb.
“We spend a lot of time with our guests to recommend the best attractions depending on their wants,” he said.
Member for Vasse and Shadow Tourism Minister Libby Mettam said 2018 was a tough year for many tourism operators because of a decline in visitor spending.
“Tourism businesses represent approximately 15 per cent of all businesses in Vasse, generating around 1400 direct jobs, and it is vital the WA Labor Government shows some real support for the tourism industry and regional WA by enacting policies that will grow visitor numbers, spend and market share,” Ms Mettam said.
“We need a fairer, more level playing field, which could mean either expanding the regulatory framework or making it easier for mainstream accommodation providers.”
Robert McDonald of Bushy Lakes Chalets says the Christmas period was vital to his business.