Happy end to tough year

Augusta Margaret River Times - - Front Page - Jack­son Lavell-Lee

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.”

Pic­ture: Jack­son Lavell-Lee

Robert McDon­ald of Bushy Lakes Chalets says the Christ­mas pe­riod was vi­tal to his busi­ness.

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