Confidence remains high for South West tourism as direct Busselton-Melbourne flights are pushed back once again. Now pencilled in for July 17, travellers have been assured the direct flights from Busselton Margaret River Airport will go ahead three times a week for three years. A spokesman for Jetstar confirmed the constant date changes of the flights were a direct result of COVID-19 lockdowns. The service was originally set to launch in March 2020 when COVID-19 halted the trial. It has since been rescheduled five times as outbreaks continue in 2021. Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said confidence was still high among the region’s tourism industry. “Travel confidence is damaged every time there is a virus outbreak or lockdown across the country for fear of having to quarantine or have travel plans cancelled mid-air, so this is a particularly difficult time to be launching a new route,” she said. “It is very positive that Jetstar remain committed to flying at the earliest possible date as restrictions allow. “The ability for east-coast visitors to be able to fly direct to the region will further increase our appeal and help to rebuild our interstate markets.” The “game changer” service is expected to bring more than 60,000 visitors to the region and contribute more than $40 million to the WA economy. City of Busselton Deputy Mayor Kelly Hick said the council and Jetstar were both still “fully committed”. “Securing an airline to the Busselton Margaret River Airport has been a long time in the making,” she said. “While flights have been postponed for a further week, both the City and Jetstar remain fully committed to the route and are looking forward to the inaugural flight taking off. “There has certainly been a continued appetite for travellers to visit the South West due to our unique offerings and the fact we are a relatively safe place to visit at the moment,” she said. The State Government spent $43.25m on the development of the airport and airline attraction.