Tourism chiefs say streamlined approach welcomed to foster Margaret River region’s tourism potential

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Tourism Council of WA CEO Evan Hall says the State Government needs to oversee major tourism projects to harness investor interest and confidence.
Camera IconTourism Council of WA CEO Evan Hall says the State Government needs to oversee major tourism projects to harness investor interest and confidence. Credit: Photographer/The West Australian

Tourism chiefs have welcomed a State Government commitment to the tourism industry seen as crucial for regions like Margaret River to catch up to other States.

On the first day of Parliament for the year on Tuesday, Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti said the Government would establish a ministerial committee to drive new tourism investment in WA.

It follows strong criticism from Tourism WA boss Evan Hall, who previously said the State urgently needed a head office to co-ordinate the numerous Government departments involved in — and often stymieing — outside investment in new attractions and accommodation experiences in Perth and regional WA.

Speaking to the Times, Mr Hall said too much red tape and a lack of willpower was causing national parks in the Capes region to languish for lack of immersive visitor experiences.

“We should be empowering WA tourism businesses to create incredible experiences,” he said.

Upmarket accommodation, glamping and private curated wilderness experiences were all begging for visitors in the Capes region, Mr Hall said.

He welcomed the minister’s news, which he saw as supporting much-needed resort projects in the Capes, including Smiths Beach and the proposed Westin Margaret River Resort & Spa.

Mr Hall said the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Busselton was a strong lure, drawing people wanting that kind of holiday experience.

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chief executive Sharna Kearney said major local projects including national parks and the Busselton-Margaret River Airport would benefit from the new approach.

“Tourism is our region’s largest industry,” she said.

“It is excellent that the State Government recognises its importance and the need for a strategic approach to investment to ensure that tourism is shaped in a way that delivers strong outcomes for the community in which it operates and the State as a whole.”

Ms Saffioti said the Government recognised State departments needed greater co-ordination.

“There are a number of Government agencies and portfolios that have key decision-making roles when it comes to delivering tourism projects and investment, and this new committee will allow us to drive better co-ordination and overcome known barriers,” she said.

“By providing a more attractive and streamlined environment, with faster approvals processes, we can open up development opportunities, secure more investment in WA tourism, and grow our economy in the years ahead.”

Australian Hotels Association WA boss Bradley Woods said the announcement was a major game changer for the WA tourism industry.

“The hotels and hospitality contribute to over 50 per cent of the tourism industry, and a streamlined approvals processes will be very attractive for new development opportunities and investment in WA’s broad tourism industry,” Mr Woods said.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails