South West tourism operators are experiencing a wave of cancellations ahead of the State’s border being eased next week.
Businesses in the region had hoped the move would cause a tourism boom, but the initial result has been cancellations from WA people who now want to go interstate instead.
And the expected rush of bookings from people in other States has not yet come because visitors from NSW and Victoria are put off by the need to quarantine for 14 days once they arrive in WA.
Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said soon after last Friday’s announcement there were cancellations from WA visitors seeking to reunite with friends and family in other States.
She said the quarantine requirement was a disincentive for people travelling to WA.
“The region may experience some interstate visitation over summer but the impact is likely to be limited,” she said.
The association reported that some WA people were fearful of coronavirus being brought into the State and had cancelled their plans to stay in the South West, and some guests from other States were now choosing to holiday in their own State or elsewhere over east because they wanted to avoid quarantine.
Registered Accommodation Providers Margaret River Region chief executive Debbie Noonan said bookings between now and Christmas had dropped off.
“We suspect that tourism to the West will be slow to pick up this side of Christmas. Many travellers will be cautious just in case there is another outbreak like what happened in Victoria,” she said.
Ms Noonan said most interstate guests planned travel to WA several months in advance and a lag was expected. Cape Lodge in Yallingup relies on interstate and international visitors, and general manager Drew Bernhardt said while borders were closed, it had had to halve opening days and staffing levels.
“Thirty to 40 per cent of our visitation over the summer months generally comes from interstate,” he said. “The news about the interstate border is definitely encouraging for early next year. The last few months have been pretty challenging ... it was great to receive such good support from the WA market.”
Since the announcement, Mr Bernhardt has received fewer bookings than expected from the Eastern States. He said he would support a hasty re-implementation of Melbourne to Busselton flights.
Ms Noonan said direct flights would be a massive boost. “Our tour operators and many in the accommodation sector have not seen the supposed boom,” she said.
Jetstar did not respond to a request for comment.
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