Tourism rush

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Robert McDonald of Bushy Lakes Chalets says he has been "bombarded" with bookings since the opening of intrastate borders.
Camera IconRobert McDonald of Bushy Lakes Chalets says he has been "bombarded" with bookings since the opening of intrastate borders. Credit: Jackson Lavell-Lee

The Capes is bracing for a rush of Perth visitors in coming weeks, with tourism operators across the region reporting a surge of bookings.

Accommodation providers said their phones rang hot all weekend after Premier Mark McGowan confirmed Monday’s re-opening of the restricted South West border.

Registered Accommodation Providers Margaret River Region member and chalets operator Rob McDonald said the June WA Day long weekend was already booked solid. “We got bombarded with a good number of bookings,” he said.

Caves House Hotel accommodation bookings have spiked ahead of travel restrictions between Perth and the South West being lifted next week.

“That was of huge importance to us,” hotel manager Chrissy Tenger said. “A lot of our traffic and our market is based in Perth.

“(After the announcement) it went from not having anyone calling to 10-15 bookings a day and now the long weekend is pretty booked.”

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Steve Harrison said members reported “a strong uptake in inquiries since the Perth border announcement”.

After eerily quiet weeks during the pandemic with many stores shut, questions remain about how many businesses are poised to take advantage of the mini-boom of Perth residents seeking relief from lockdown.

Many bigger venues told the Times that without a full “return to normal” it was still not economically viable to reopen kitchens or return stood-down staff to duties.

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the Government had warned about potential risks and it was “crucial” the first steps of recovery were taken.

“Hopefully we will see an injection of cash from people coming down over the next few weeks,” he said.

“They (accommodation providers) will book out very quickly and were going to have a busy July school holidays which will be a small compensation for business owners who missed out on Easter.”

Authorities have also warned residents that future waves of COVID-19 infections remain a very real possibility — with some residents fearing the influx of tourists could expose the Capes to increased risks.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said given the tourism industry had been hit hard by intrastate border closures, she welcomed the news of a refocus on the WA tourism market considering many small tourism businesses had not been eligible for State support.

“Growth in visitors to this region will represent support for a boost to our tourism businesses,” she said. “These operators, like many in the community, have an understanding of working within the new guidelines to ensure public health is prioritised.”

The MRBTA will re-open its visitor centres and attractions from Monday with special offers.

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