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Banding call for Avon tourism needs

TOWNS in the Avon region need to band together for the common purpose of promoting the area as a tourist destination, according to Northam Tourist Bureau manager Don Bremner.

“The success of regions such as the Barossa and Hunter valleys has been because of marketing,” Mr Bremner said.

“Northam attracts half a million visitors per year but 90 per cent of those are ‘day trippers’.

“In order to turn these into overnight stays, towns such as Northam, York and Toodyay need to be united and sell the Avon region as a single destination.”

Mr Bremner said events-based tourism was a key means to increase the profile of the region.

“I don’t mean to be negative – because I think Eventscorp do some great work – but they should be ‘out in the field’ more and do more to cultivate significant regional events,” he said.

“They’ve put all their eggs in one basket with large-scale events like the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race and the Heineken Classic – look how far that’s got them.

“We’ve (Northam) got everything going for us including many bed and breakfasts and close proximity to Perth.

“We have the Avon River Festival, Vintage on Avon and The Avon Descent.

The inaugural Multicultural Festival held last year attracted around 8,000 attendees.

“It was a wonderful event with many people from the Hungarian, Spanish and Polish communities attending.

“Northam was the first home in WA for 40,000 migrants after the Second World War and similar towns in the eastern States have made the most of this by holding reunions.”

The Northam Tourist Bureau received a certificate from Tourism Minister Norman Moore for the Multicultural Festival’s contribution to the community.

Mr Bremner said the bureau was submitting the event in the Significant Regional Events category for the 2000 WA Tourism Awards.

He said another way the Avon region could attract more tourist dollars was by upgrading local facilities.

“Things such as public toilets have been improved – which makes a big difference to the weary traveller – and we’re pushing for retailers to stay open on weekends instead of closing at midday on Saturdays,” Mr Bremner said.

“The Town of Northam boosted the town with the new $1 million Tourism Bureau building.

“It has been designed in a very Australian, true federation style and we’ve had great feedback from visitors about it,” he said.

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