Time for us to wander in South West

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Everyone has been happy to see things returning to some form of normality.
Camera IconEveryone has been happy to see things returning to some form of normality. Credit: Martine Perret/Martine Perret

Hopes are growing that Australia’s ongoing border closures could intensify homegrown tourism for the Margaret River region.

The recent relaxation of the South West and then other intrastate borders has already triggered a rush of bookings from Perth visitors, and industry pundits now want to harness Australian travellers normally headed to places like Bali.

About 80 per cent of the Margaret River region’s visitors come from Perth or within WA, and as the Times reported last month, national travel restrictions mean international visitors could be lost for several years.

That message was reinforced in a report by The Australian saying luxury destinations like Margaret River could benefit from locked national borders, and State and Federal leaders had discussed a trans-Tasman “travel bubble” with New Zealand.

It comes as Australia’s South West unveiled its intrastate campaign featuring the work of local photographer Martine Perrett, hired to capture how the region was “unfurling as one of the first places in Australia where visitors could experience the new normal,” ASW marketing manager Tonia Home said.

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Steve Harrison said the Capes was poised to benefit from the months ahead.

“Our region is ideally positioned to be the destination of choice for intrastate travellers whose decisions are likely to be driven by the desire to reconnect with friends and family in a safe setting, and to enjoy the natural environment,” he said.

“This is a significant step towards recovery. At the same time, we are mindful that maximum appeal for visitors will be regained once all businesses reopen and we can collectively offer a complete experience across our region.”

Phase three relaxations this weekend also mean more Margaret River residents are resuming travel plans for Exmouth and Coral Bay — traditional winter holiday spots for surfers and grey nomads.

Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Ian Earl said the closed international borders would encourage regular Bali visitors to head down south instead.

“We’ve got a fair bit to offer down here and we’re only three hours from Perth,” he said. “We should see some good results there.”

WA’s tourism leaders will ramp up promotion of intrastate travel in coming weeks, with the ASW campaign running until October, joined this week by the Wander Out Yonder Tourism WA campaign.

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