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Big US potential to boost tourism

Declan BushAugusta Margaret River Times
Sean Blocksidge snapped a selfie with screen legend Paul Hogan at the G'Day USA event.
Camera IconSean Blocksidge snapped a selfie with screen legend Paul Hogan at the G'Day USA event. Credit: Sean Blocksidge

Fresh from a red-carpet appearance at Los Angeles’ G’Day USA event, Margaret River tour operator Sean Blocksidge says American tourism could transform the local industry.

Mr Blocksidge runs the Margaret River Discovery Co. and last year snapped a photo of two kangaroos silhouetted in moonlight, which Tourism Australia chose as a showcase for Australia at the glitzy event, which aims to cultivate our relationship with the US.

Sean Blocksidge and his wife Erin Davey at the G’Day USA event.
Camera IconSean Blocksidge and his wife Erin Davey at the G’Day USA event. Credit: supplied

He said the visit was “just a great opportunity to fly the Margaret River flag”.

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Mr Blocksidge said Americans were becoming more aware of the region.

“There was definitely an awareness of Margaret River and the quality of Margaret River wine,” he said.

“I would have seen more business coming from the US in the last eight months than in the last eight years.”

Mr Blocksidge said visitors on his tours were often professional and semi-retired, and had seen the usual landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“They’re quite often Americans on their second or third visit to Australia,” he said.

He said tourists would visit the Kimberley and Exmouth, “then they’re coming down to Margaret River and they’re spending serious money”.

“When they get here, they’re absolutely blown away by the wine,” he said.

A Tourism Australia statement said US travellers looked for “good food and wine, value for money, history and heritage, friendly citizens, and aquatic and coastal experiences”.

Barriers to travel included the two-week annual leave window, and the financial and time cost of visiting Australia rather than Europe.

Mr Blocksidge said US visitors wanted “authentic, genuine experiences” of Australia.

And he said the high number of potential American visitors was a great opportunity for local tourism.

“If we just focus just on the quality of the cabernet ... those consumers alone would be enough to keep us pretty busy,” he said.

Mr Blocksidge said the local industry could come out on top by “just being Margaret River — do what we do and do it well”.

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