The region’s tourism profile is set to score another massive boost with Jetstar confirming direct flights from Sydney to Busselton are in the wings. Coming off the back of its proven route from Melbourne to the Busselton-Margaret River Airport, the carrier yesterday confirmed it would start three weekly flights from Sydney in March next year. The Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association and City of Busselton were ecstatic at the news that represents long-held ambitions to grow Busselton Airport as a major destination and eventually harness direct flights from South-East Asia. Strong demand had already seen Jetstar add a fourth weekly Melbourne flight, and while some operators questioned whether it was bringing as many tourists as first hoped, uptake among family visitors as well as Perth football fans had given the route strong support. The Sydney flights were expected to bring an added 50,000 people to the region, Jetstar chief executive Stephanie Tully said. “Holiday-makers from Sydney will be able to fly direct to Margaret River in about five hours for as low as $109 one way, making the region far more accessible for domestic and international tourists from the harbour city,” she said. “Our flights from Melbourne have already been incredibly popular, and once our Sydney flights launch, we’ll be carrying well over 100 thousand customers to and from this captivating region annually.” Busselton Mayor Phill Cronin said the news came at a perfect time, with the airport’s business case under development to boost capacity. “We are currently working with the State Government to develop a business case to fund necessary infrastructure upgrades to ensure the airport can keep up with strong demand from domestic travellers wanting to experience our world-class wineries, attractions, stunning coastline and laid-back hospitality,” he said. MRBTA chief executive Sharna Kearney said the Sydney connection would help strengthen and diversify the overall tourism sector. “The announcement of this new service just 19 months after the Melbourne route commenced is a tremendous achievement, and we congratulate the teams at the City of Busselton and Tourism WA who have led the way in securing this new route,” she said. “While interstate visitors traditionally account for just 10 per cent of the region’s tourists, this market is incredibly important for smoothing the region’s seasonal visitation patterns, and for tourism businesses and events looking to attract visitors who stay longer, disperse more widely, and spend more than our traditional Perth market. “This news demonstrates the confidence that Jetstar has in the exceptional visitor experiences provided by the region’s local tourism businesses.” Ms Kearney also noted the Sydney flights made access to the Margaret River region easier for international visitors, with the overall effect to lighten the region’s dependence on the Perth market. Australia’s South West chief executive Catrin Allsop said the flights would help disperse travellers across the region and “foster sustainable growth”.