Stay findings still shrouded

Warren HatelyBusselton Dunsborough Times

WA’s tourism minister has declined to reveal the recommendations stemming from a consultant’s report examining short-stay development options on the Cape-to-Cape Track.

Directing inquiries through Tourism WA, a spokeswoman said three tiers of accommodation were in consideration for the project, but it was too early to provide the Eastern States consultant’s report or even the final recommendations.

“The study indicated the Cape-to-Cape Track would require significant infrastructure investment to develop it into a world-class experience in line with the other great walks of Australia,” TWA said.

“The study recommends the development of a master plan to assist in identifying all upgrades and works required to improve the quality of the track and identify tourism and recreation opportunities.

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“Tourism WA will work with other State Government departments and stakeholders to determine the next steps.” The Times first reported the concept last May, with Tourism Minister Paul Papalia in Margaret River for the Pro and talking up the worldwide appeal of the volunteer-maintained track.

Mr Papalia believed more high-end tourists would discover the track if up-market “glamping-style” accommodation nodes were developed.

But the Government would field proposals from the private sector rather than develop the sites itself, he said.

It comes as local stakeholders seek to integrate all Capes tracks within a master plan under their Unbeaten Tracks proposal.

It was unclear whether the proposed master plan would feed into that project. Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said Mr Papalia had to “come clean” on the findings.

“The minister for tourism must rule out private accommodation along the Cape-to-Cape Track and instead commit to its preservation as a fragile eco-tourism asset,” she said.

“These are concerns I have shared.

“It is concerning that private accommodation was one of the options explored by the McGowan Government, when the priority should be its preservation given the significant demand for this popular but fragile eco-tourism asset.”

TWA said no residential development was considered, but “other tourism impacts and opportunities on the track” would be reviewed.

Ms Mettam said she believed existing camping and nearby short stays were sufficient for tourists seeking a wilderness experi-ence, which should be protected.

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