Grey dollar powers local tourism
Goldfields tourism operators are not concerned by a decrease in overseas tourist numbers, saying the bulk of business comes from grey nomads.
The Golden Outback has welcomed 8000 fewer overseas travellers from July last year to June this year than the previous financial year, taking a $5 million hit in international spending, according to Tourism Research Australia.
But local tour operators have told the Kalgoorlie Miner most of their tourism dollars come from the grey nomads. Hannans North Tourist Mine supervisor Melissa Chapman reported a slight decrease in international visitors from 2177 in 2016 to 1945 last year.
However, she said the slight drop had not affected business.
“The majority of our visitors are grey nomads or families during the school holidays,” she said.
“Our international visitors, particularly European tourists, only come between December and February.”
Ms Chapman said the business had some international visitors but mostly grey nomads or families through the Indian Pacific train from Perth to Sydney, which stopped in Kalgoorlie. “Last year we had 7500 visitors from that, so it was a great source of income for us and so far this year we’ve had 6154 already,” she said.
“We’re finding that a lot of those visitors tend to come back to Kalgoorlie because they didn’t get enough time to see what the place was all about and realise it’s not a small town.”
Questa Casa brothel owner Carmel Galvin said her business had lots of overseas visitors but she largely relied on the grey nomads for tourist dollars.
“They have an interest in the past, they have a bit of a money and they want a good time,” she said.
“Kalgoorlie relies on grey nomads and I think for some reason people in town are trying to tone down the Wild West history we have to offer, but I think that’s what brought people here in the first place.”
Kalgoorlie Tours and Charters manager Wes Murray said his overseas visitors were mostly European and only came to Kalgoorlie-Boulder during the summer months. “I haven’t seen a decline in international tourist numbers at all,” he said.
“In November last year to February this year our international tourists made up 30 per cent of our business. During July to October they only made up 6 per cent, so it goes to show those customers only come during the summer months.”
Bush Ghoodhu Wongutha Tours operator Linden Brownley has been running his business for nearly two years.
He said it rarely had international tourists but had seen an increase in other visitors, mostly the grey nomads.
“I think the powers that be in town should look at strategies and ways to attract more international tourists as well to help build local tourism businesses,” he said.