Winter tourism numbers increase

Sophie ElliottAugusta Margaret River Times
The Caves Road scenic drive.
Camera IconThe Caves Road scenic drive. Credit: Warren HatelyPicture:

The Capes enjoyed an improved winter tourism season last year, according to the latest visitor data, and operators have reason to be optimistic about this summer’s results.

Tourism Research Australia’s latest National and International Visitor Surveys revealed the number of visitors to WA, and their total spend, had again reached an all-time high.

According to the surveys, the State experienced a 13.2 per cent increase in international holiday visitors and an increase in spending of 25.2 per cent.

On top of this, interstate visitors rose by 22.7 per cent.

At a local level, the Busselton-Margaret River region had some smaller but positive increases.

International overnight visitors decreased 5.5 per cent, but interstate overnight visits soared 8.5 per cent, while the region had its largest swarm of intrastate overnight visitors in three years.

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association joint chief executive Steve Harrison said the latest results were in line with feedback the association had received from members, who reported an improved winter compared with 2018, when numbers were significantly down.

Mr Harrison said the 13.2 per cent rise in WA’s international holiday visitors was “outstanding”.

“It is encouraging to see that Tourism WA’s $12 million international marketing boost is delivering a return at State level,” he said.

“MRBTA is particularly looking forward to the results of the recently announced Road Trip campaign targeting potential visitors from Germany and Switzerland, who generally stay longer in the State than many other international visitors.”

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the results were “extremely positive” and proved the State Government’s promotion of WA was “paying off”.

While there was no official data yet on summer tourist numbers, Mr Harrison said there were encouraging signs for local tourism.

“MRBTA has received anecdotal feedback over the summer period from members who have experienced record-breaking visitor numbers to their business, as well as reports that the towns of the region feel busier compared with last year,” he said.

“At the same time, we are also hearing from members whose businesses are not performing as well as they had hoped, particularly in the tours sector.

“There are a number of initiatives under way to assist these businesses overcome the challenges created by changing market conditions.”

Visitation numbers at the MRBTA-managed attractions held steady during the summer, with a slight growth of 2 per cent.

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