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Capes shine in visitor survey

Sophie ElliottAugusta Margaret River Times
Tourism numbers for the Capes region are up.
Camera IconTourism numbers for the Capes region are up.

The Capes region is facing a visitor boom, if the latest figures from Tourism Research Australia are anything to go by.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia was revelling in the results of the National Visitor Survey and International Visitor Survey this week, which showed WA had a record-breaking 2.76 million interstate visitors last financial year.

Mr Papalia said the numbers for the Capes region were also “through the roof” and showed the State Government’s marketing strategy was working.

“These are the biggest out-of-state visitor numbers in history,” he said.

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“More people are coming to WA than ever before, and they are spending more than ever before.”

The results, however, show inter-national visitor spend declined for the eighth quarter in a row — des-pite several years of national growth.

The release of the figures follows Friday’s landmark news of Jet-star flights from Melbourne to the Busselton-Margaret River region, described by City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley as the “shot in the arm” needed by the tourism sector.

For Vasse MLA Libby Mettam, the figures were even greater justification to build the promised passenger terminal.

“It’s a credit to our world-class tourism operators and the natural beauty of this outstanding region that we are seeing such positive domestic numbers,” she said.

“It is essential this Government gives the airport the best chance to succeed.

“That includes providing the funding to complete the terminal upgrade and marketing support to translate this opportunity into a permanent outcome.”

The Busselton-Margaret River region recorded a 17.6 per cent increase in overnight visitation from out-of-state visitors last financial year.

The figures show the City of Busselton saw a whopping 26.4 per cent increase in overnight stays, while the Augusta-Margaret River shire experienced a 10.1 per cent rise.

Overall, Australia’s South West recorded a 9.8 per cent increase and the numbers were indicative of gains Statewide.

The survey showed overnight visitors and day-trippers spent $10.5 billion in WA, of which $4.9 billion was spent in the regions.

Mr Papalia said he was aware the joy was not felt by all operators, but he was confident an increase in marketing spend, a bumper year of events, and direct flights would drive the numbers higher.

“There are always some people who won’t be doing well, and right now we know there are some sectors right across tourism in WA that are probably going to be doing it tougher, and that is not necessarily related to the number of people coming to the State,” he said.

“What we can do is what we are already doing, and what the tourism association are doing, and that is trying to drive numbers as high as we can.

“The more people that come, the more everyone will benefit, regardless of which part of the industry they are in.”

The survey was not all good news, with international visitor spend in WA declining for the eighth quarter in a row.

WA shadow minister for tourism Alyssa Hayden said while interstate visitor numbers to WA remained solid, more needed to be done to ensure visitor numbers equalled financial gains.

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