Good tourism results

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times

Capes tourism operators are reporting healthy visitation this summer, watering down calls from WA’s peak tourism body that the struggling sector needs to be treated as a State emergency.

The Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association recently instigated monthly surveys to gauge changes in visitor numbers and spending, and to provide further context to Tourism Research Australia and Tourism WA statistics.

About 60 per cent of respondents reported visitation was the same or up in January as the same time last year.

Of the 40 per cent reporting an increase in visitation, a third were up by more than 6 per cent and a third up by more than 10 per cent.

Spend was the same or up for about 65 per cent of respondents for January, with roughly half seeing an increase of up to 5 per cent.

For the 35 per cent of respondents that saw reduced spend, half were down by more than 10 per cent.

“The data suggests that while visitation has sustained or improved for the majority of businesses, visitors are being more discerning with the activities and experiences they choose to spend their money on,” MRBTA co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said. The figures come shortly after Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall labelled the situation “disastrous” and “diabolical”.

Speaking to The West Australian last month, Mr Hall called for the WA Government to top up tourism marketing coffers to the tune of $130 million.

Busselton Jetty was one attraction to experience a boost, with more than 65,800 visitors during December-January, an increase of 4.5 per cent in overall numbers from the same period in 2017-18.

Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve said the figures were promising in light of Mr Hall’s comments. Ms Shreeve believes the key to growing visitor numbers is to offer experiences to appeal to different markets.

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