Tourism Council boss Evan Hall criticises Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions for efforts

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Tourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall says the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions needs a ‘can d-’ attitude to help provide new tourism experiences.
Camera IconTourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall says the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions needs a ‘can d-’ attitude to help provide new tourism experiences. Credit: Photographer/The West Australian

Top tourism boss Evan Hall has taken a swipe at the State agency governing the region’s national parks for failing to harness their full potential.

The Tourism Council WA chief executive said WA was still missing out on attractions other places such as Tasmania were developing to offer visitors the chance for experiences otherwise only possible overseas.

Mr Hall said the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions was slow to buy into the glamping phenomenon, and meanwhile other attractions allowing visitors to take in the Capes region’s natural beauty alongside food and wine experiences were seeing travellers head interstate and overseas.

“DBCA just does not have the focus on creating sustainable tourism experiences,” he told the Times.

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“The culture (within DBCA) is hard to explain, but all I will say is it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Mr Hall said the department needed to offer more than basic campgrounds if the Capes’ tourism appeal was to keep pace with locations like Tasmania, where innovative accommodation experiences allowed tourists to stay deep in nature — with all the luxuries.

“When it comes to doing attractions they run themselves or when it requires a lease . . . DBCA is just not there,” Mr Hall said.

“WA would do these things well.”

A spokesperson for the department rejected the criticism and said DBCA worked closely with traditional owners and MRBTA “to ensure that tourism experiences in the park complement those on offer in the surrounding Capes region”.

DBCA had invested in mountain-bike trails, major upgrades to Redgate Beach and Rabbit Hill day-use sites, as well as the Contos and Point Road campgrounds within national park, with the Cape to Cape had received upgrades.

The department also supported high-profile events including the Margaret River Surfing Pro, Ultra Marathon, and Coastrek Margaret River.

“DBCA is excited to be part of a shared commitment to create tourism business opportunities and develop new destinations and visitor experiences that directly benefit over 400 commercial tour operators and 53 leased tourism businesses that operate in WA’s national parks and conservation areas,” the spokesperson said.

While Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chief Sharna Kearney said DBCA had a prime role to play in tourism.

“I can see where Evan is coming from. Many national parks within WA are reasonably remote and/or don’t have a selection of accommodation options in close proximity,” she said.

“That isn’t the case for the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

“We haven’t experienced DBCA being difficult to work with.”

MRBTA is partnering with DBCA on its Karri Bowl interpretive centre and tree-top walk project first revealed by the Times in 2020, with no updates yet to come through the pipeline.

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