Pandemic puts village plan on hold

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
An artists impression of the interior of the Busselton Jetty village glasshouse
Camera IconAn artists impression of the interior of the Busselton Jetty village glasshouse Credit: Supplied/Busselton-Dunsborough Times, Supplied Picture: Supplied

Busselton Jetty put its Jetty Village project on hold this week because of the financial impact of COVID-19.

The village, which was due to be completed in October, was designed to resemble the glasshouse on the Burke Street Pier in Hobart, which is illuminated at night.

The decision was made because of the anticipated financial loss due to closures and COVID-19 restrictions limiting patrons, which would result in a tough winter for the iconic landmark.

Busselton Jetty Inc chair Barry House said the board made the difficult decision to delay the project because of a lack of international tourists throughout winter.

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“Busselton Jetty’s income will be about $800,000 less from the impact of COVID-19 this financial year and with uncertainty on when borders will open, it’s reasonable to assume the coming financial year will see less interstate and international visitors,” he said.

“The board has a duty of care to make decisions that will ensure the sustainability of the Busselton Jetty and in tough times we have to make tough decisions. The responsible decision was to focus on our staff and existing operational commitments, and this means delaying the Village project.”

Busselton Jetty Inc will now focus on the construction of the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre in 2022, which has received $13 million in Federal Government funding via the Regional Growth Fund. “This positive cash-flow project will be a game changer for tourism in WA, generate over 250 direct and indirect jobs in WA during construction and 118 jobs when open,” Mr House said.

The AODC is supported in principle by Busselton City councillors, who last year voted to support the project with a $4m self-supporting loan. Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the move was a wise decision in the current financial climate.

Busselton Jetty retains the Village design, which included a bar, cafe and marine interpretation zone concept and can revisit the build in future years.

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