$8.7m boost for business

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Cape Lodge’s Tony Howell and Rosie Griffiths.
Camera IconCape Lodge’s Tony Howell and Rosie Griffiths. Credit: supplied

Tourism businesses in and around the South West will be able to splurge a little this month after 31 received a share of $8.7 million as part of the WA Government’s Tourism Business Survival Grants program.

Grants between $15,000-$100,000 were handed to a variety of tour operators, attractions, food, and wine businesses in the region including Cowaramup’s Olio Bello, Margaret River Surf School, and Dunsborough’s Naturaliste Charters in an attempt to boost their sustainability and growth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Busselton Jetty Incorporated suffered a $1m loss between March and June, and was delighted to hear the site received $50,000.

Chief executive Lisa Shreeve said it would go towards new tours for the jetty and would also enable them to provide fresh products in the Underwater Observatory for Summer.

The jetty initially applied for $100,000 but Mrs Shreeve said she was happy with the amount it received.

“I believe the program was heavily subscribed so I think the State Government was trying to be as fair as possible and give everyone a slice of the pie,” she said.

The tourism grants for the South West stretch from Bunbury to Augusta, including Margaret River, with the Valley of the Giants near Walpole and the Stirling Range in the Great Southern also included.

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association lost more than $2.1 million during COVID-19 restrictions and co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said without Government stimulus measures, their ability to support their employees and member businesses would have been severely constrained.

“COVID has had a catastrophic impact on our region’s tourism businesses, and if it weren’t for JobKeeper and other stimulus measures, many would not be in businesses now.”

“Supporting our members is tantamount to the survival of the region itself,” she said.

“The Tourism Business Survival Grant is a great example of targeted business support which recognises the hardship faced by tourism business.”

“It was great to see that 20 of the 31 recipients from the South West were from our region and MRBTA member businesses, including iconic tourism attractions such as the Busselton Jetty.”

MRBTA will invest its share of the grant funds in marketing, visitor servicing, business and product development to support members and region’s recovery.

Cape Lodge general manager Drew Bernhardt said it received “a good chunk” of money from the grants and would use the entirety of it on marketing activities for a more WA-based market.

“Historically, we have had a 50 per cent international market and a 25 per cent interstate market and now it has shifted so we will be focusing on marketing more to the domestic audience and cater for the Perth crowd,” he said.

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