Deputy Premier and newly-minted Tourism Minister Roger Cook says the Margaret River Pro cements the region as the jewel in the crown for WA tourism and is a major economic boost to WA’s tourism economy. At Saturday’s official Pro launch, Mr Cook thanked the World Surf League for sticking by Margaret River despite the challenges of COVID-19. The Minister reaffirmed Tourism WA’s support for the event which brought in 5000 extra visitors during April at a value of more than $6 million. This year’s Pro is the first in a new three-year sponsorship agreement with the WSL. “This is a world-class sporting event being held right on our doorstep in one of the most special parts of WA,” he said. “The next 10 days promise to deliver competitive sport at the highest level in one of the most breath-taking locations on earth. “The McGowan Government is proud to support this amazing event which will showcase our South West to a global audience and generate millions of dollars for local businesses in the region,” Mr Cook said. “We warmly welcome the competitors, their teams and spectators to the South West and encourage them to explore the region’s stunning coastline, rolling vineyards, award-winning restaurants and all-round warm hospitality.” Mr Cook also noted the WSL’s decision to make Margaret River the site for the contentious midyear cut raised the stakes and guaranteed the eyes of the world would be on the Margaret River region as the Pro continued until May 4. The mid-season cut reduces the Championship Tour fields to the Top 22 men and Top 10 women, in addition to two men’s and two women’s wildcards. The Minister said the value of the WA and Margaret River tourism brands broadcast on the world stage as surfing and tourism pundits keenly awaited the outcome of the brutal cut could not be over-estimated. The Minister’s remarks were echoed by Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association co-chief executive Sharna Kearney. Ms Kearney last week said the Pro delivered strong benefits to the community “in terms of spend with local businesses, development opportunities for our youth, and media exposure that helps to build the region’s brand globally”. “The majority of our community are proud to host the Pro, and are prepared to accommodate minor disruptions, knowing the far-reaching benefits the event brings.” The Pro has caused contention at various times in its local history, with local surfers arcing up at permissions to use Gracetown’s North Point break as well as more recent consternation at the event’s long set-up window putting Surfers Point beyond use for some. However, Mr Cook’s glowing review and the WSL’s post-COVID positioning look to put to bed dormant fears Margaret River could be axed from the Australian circuit. While Margaret River’s status was hotly debated in recent years, Australia’s status as a safe haven during the pandemic has seen a greater WSL investment in the Australian Championship Tour and satellite events.