A new destination plan for the South West has highlighted the path ahead for tourism in the Margaret River region. As part of a plan developed by Tourism WA for the entire South West, a region-specific guide as part of the 10-year Tourism Destination Management Plan recently advertised for industry comment highlighted key major projects — many which still require State Government funding. For the area spanning the Augusta-Margaret River shire and City of Busselton, expansion of Busselton Airport was listed as the top priority. With Jetstar flights from Melbourne already heralded as a success, an extra Sydney connection and future international access to South-East Asia was the region’s tourism holy grail. Also identified were resorts — such as the contentious Westin Margaret River Resort & Spa at Gnarabup currently facing criticism from local activists — and niche “glamping” opportunities tied in to the Cape-to-Cape Track. Activation of plans for Busselton Jetty and the City’s performing arts complex were also listed, along with a recovery plan for the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park as well as the stalled Unbeaten Tracks project seeking to unify and connect all of the Capes’ walking trails under one marketable umbrella. The Times understands the Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association’s Karri Bowl project — which includes relocating a 3km chunk of Caves Road around the Boranup forest — was included in the recovery project. Aside from major infrastructure, the document signalled indigenous tourism, re-investment in the Capes’ tired national parks, work on the Cape-to-Cape Track and strengthening connections between wine exports and tourism were all identified. Challenges existed too. An historic lack of investment in national parks, poor signs and tourism dispersal across the region, a shortfall in taxis and lack of public transport options, plus the airport’s ongoing bugbear — the lack of a quality passenger terminal — were all identified for future work. The plan said tourism had to shift to a “regenerative tourism” model in a clear sign industry bigwigs had accepted the negative consequences on the environment from mass tourism, with the MRBTA in recent years leading the way by focusing its attention on high-yield tourism and encouraging visitors to engage with the environment in a sustainable way. The Augusta-Margaret River shire was recognised as an international “eco-tourism destination” earlier this year.