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Developing the potential for tourism

AN advertising campaign costing $100,000 and tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure are in the active planning stages to lift tourism in the Goldfields to a $500 million-a-year industry.

Tourism operators and industry officials agree that the Goldfields region is an underestimated and underpatronised area for tourists, and a hard-working Goldfields Tourism Association is slowly raising awareness as a worthy destination.

Association president Julian Grill said two strategic reports into Goldfields tourism had found the region’s main strengths were heritage, architecture, history and mining, with some value given to ecological tourism.

Mr Grill told Business News that a number of major projects were being planned.

“There’s a new luxury resort hotel being built in central Kalgoorlie by Broadwater Hospitality at a cost of about $25 million and that should commence in April,” Mr Grill said.

“The Mining and Prospectors Hall of Fame is open with exhibits there about half finished, and we believe as a national icon this will be a considerable tourism project.

“The Golden Pipeline project will link in with the Loop Line project and that’s being sponsored by the National Trust to renovate and restore the original pipeline and pumping stations that were constructed by CY O’Connor.

“That work will go from Mundaring to Mount Charlotte where there will be a viewing platform and an extensive water feature, which will compliment a tourism precinct at the eastern end of Hannan Street.

“The loop line will be extended from Boulder into the same area to create a tourism heritage area complete with heritage buildings maintained and promoted by the shires of the region.

“Another feature will be a fully grassed 27-hole golf course with the resort hotel and that will be jointly funded by the State Government and City Council, and we’re sure that will make the city more attractive to executives and their families.

“There’s also a recognition that we’ve got to find other ways of employing people and raising revenue, especially for women and young people.

“There’s a real understanding that if this area is about mining alone we’re going to miss out in terms of amenities and jobs.”

Goldrush Tours manager Rob Paul said one of the region’s main strengths was its rich history.

“Mainstream operators need to be able to offer a complete tourism experience and that will include white fella interpretation of black fella stories and black fella interpretation of white fella stories,” he said.

The main Aboriginal tourism operator in the Goldfields is Geoffrey Stokes, who runs the Yamatji Bitja bush tours out of Kalgoorlie.

“We have day trips from Kalgoorlie and I also do an overnight camp, where I take people out to my traditional country about 220 kilometres north-east of the town,” Mr Stokes said.

“We go out to where my father was born and to a place called Twin Lakes and show them places that have never been visited by the white man.”

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