TOURISM TO TAKE FLIGHT

Catherine MasseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Jetstar aircraft
Camera IconJetstar aircraft Credit: METHODE

The South West is in line for a tourism boom in the new year, with flights from Melbourne to Busselton finally set to take off from February 1.

Jetstar is the first commercial airline to make the ambitious journey to the region, with three flights set to arrive in Busselton each week.

The announcement came just as the interstate border was reopened to New South Wales and Victoria on Tuesday, with the flights expected to boost visitation to the region by 60,000 people every year.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney said Victoria and NSW made up more than 60 per cent of the region’s interstate visitation and it was “great news” to welcome them back.

“One of the barriers for this market has been the relative time and cost of travelling here,” she said. “The announcement of direct flights from Melbourne to Busselton will help us attract more of these high-yielding visitors who stay longer, spend more and are more likely to travel outside of peak periods.”

Jetstar Group chief executive Gareth Evans said after a long period of border closures, he was happy to confirm the new start date and expected demand to be strong.

Broadwater Resort managing director Evan Lewis said it was extremely positive to see Jetstar restart the flights so soon after the border eased.

“These new direct flights really ease access to our beautiful region,” Mr Lewis said.

The initiative is expected to contribute more than $40 million to the WA economy over the next three years, and Busselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve said re-implementation of the route would enable the jetty to open as normal during the 2021 winter period.

“We really need interstate guests ... overall numbers are down 40 per cent on last year from March to November,” Ms Shreeve said.

“I think Melbourne people have a love of fine food, wine, nature and coastal sights, so the Margaret River region is well poised to attract Eastern States visitors to see why we love living here so much.”

The flights will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for $149 one-way.

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the flight announcement was “fantastic news” and he was “ready and eager” to welcome interstate travellers.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it was essential the initiative was given every chance to succeed.

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