South West given tourism wake up

THE South West needs to wake up to the benefits tourism brings to the region.

This was the message Murdoch University Tourism Program director Trevor Sofield and Bunbury Tourism Bureau general manager Jan Pederson hoped to get across at the recent launch of a study looking at the benefits of tourism.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism project aims to evaluate future tourism opportunities throughout the region by developing a tourism futures simulator model.

The South West Development Commis-sion, six Tapestry Shire Councils, the Bunbury Tourism Board, WA Tourism Commission, Ministry of Planning, Depart-ment of Employment, Work Place Relations and small business together with Edith Cowan and Murdoch universities have contributed over $600,000 to the three year project.

The first project of its kind, it will not only look at the existing attractions and natural resources of the Bunbury-Wellington sub-group but also a range of ecological and socio-economic development issues.

The findings of another study initiated by the SWDC were also launched recently in Manjimup by Minister for Regional Development Hendy Cowan.

The South West Region Tourism Study, which investigated the value of tourism to the South West, is also believed to be the only study of its kind in Australia.

The launch was attended by local government representatives and delegates from the WA Tourism Commission and South West Development Commission.

The study found tourism was worth more than $255 million a year.

Other findings showed the true extent of the benefits of tourism including the backward and forward linkages created around the industry.

Less than one-third of total expenditure was spent with businesses identifying themselves with the tourism industry.

Without visitor expenditure all businesses, including local government, would have substantially lower levels of income.

The study found the equivalent of 1,800 full time jobs were created by businesses servicing visitors.

However, the study also revealed tourism was not evenly spread across the region.

Coastal Shires secure a far greater share of visitors than inland areas, with the exception of Pemberton.

The study offered number of recommendations including the need for regular traveller surveys and linking local government into long term planning for the industry.

Tourism operators should also be informed of the long-term benefits of buying locally and of the necessity to involve the local community in open days and other activities to build a better understanding of the industry, the study suggested.

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