Tourism set to boom

WA’S tourism industry is set for a boom over the next few years if many of the projects on the drawing board reach fruition.

According to the WA Tourism Commission’s Tourism Develop-ment Register released last week, more than 120 projects worth an estimated $1.5 billion are planned for WA.

About $650 million is planned for the Perth region alone covering 20 projects – a far cry from the $19 million worth of projects completed in Perth during 2000 and the $61 million currently under construction.

The South West has a further 34 accommodation projects on the board worth in excess of $250 million. This compares with just nine South-West projects completed in 2000 at a cost of $34 million.

The explosion of interest from developers will add a further 8,000 accommodation units to the State.

The Kimberley is attracting attention also with 14 projects valued at more than $80 million mooted, compared with $8 million of projects under construction.

But the big winners over the next few years will be the Mid-West region and the Heartlands.

The Mid West has 13 projects worth more than $30 million planned while the Heartlands, which stretches from Jurien to Southern Cross and Lake Grace to the south, could see a $160 million injection into the region’s tourism facilities.

The most notable project for the Heartlands is the $120 million, 800-unit Hill River Resort planned for Jurien by Ardross Estates.

Notable projects in the South West include the $50 million Bunker Bay Resort, the $30 million Cape View Beach Resort redevelopment and the $30 million Gnarabup Beach Resort.

The strong interest in capturing the lucrative tourism market has been reinforced by strong international traveller numbers.

International arrivals into WA during December were 27 per cent higher than the previous month, according to the Westralia Airport Corporation.

Compared with December 1999, the number of outbound passengers increased 12 per cent resulting in overall passenger growth of 19 per cent for December 2000.

WAC CEO Graham Muir said Perth was a popular destination, particularly for the United Kingdom market which grew 72 per cent over the year.

“The total number of arriving international flights increased 123 per cent for the first half of 2000-01, with an increase in available seat capacity of 10,190 when compared to the same period in 1999,” Mr Muir said.

Arrivals from Thailand were up 37 per cent, South African traffic rose 23 per cent, Singapore 9 per cent, New Zealand up 16 per cent, Malaysia up 27 per cent, Japan up 31 per cent and Indonesia up 56 per cent.

“The positive results have given a significant boost for the start of the New Year, which is great news for the WA economy,” Mr Muir said.

“The growth is directly related to increased seat capacity on airlines as well as the successful promotion of the State as a tourist destination, combined with discounted fares being offered at different times during the year.”

Further growth was also recorded for domestic passengers with a year to date increase of 5 per cent and an 8 per cent growth recovered for December 2000 compared with December 1999.

Backpackers are also becoming a focus for developers with the number of backpackers coming to our State growing 50 per cent faster than the Australian average and making up 17 per cent of all international visitors to WA last year.

The latest Bureau of Tourism Research’s International Visitor Survey figures show almost 95,000 backpackers visited WA in 1999, up 31 per cent on the previous year.

Figures released by the Australian Tourist Commission indicate that about 22 per cent of the 423,000 backpackers who came to Australia during 1999 visited WA during their stay and spent an estimated $215 million.

European backpackers to WA increased 50 per cent and UK backpackers increased 35 per cent.

WA Tourism Commission CEO Shane Crockett said the substantial jump in visitor numbers particularly in the backpacker market could be attributed to the nature-based tourism experience which was an emerging industry luring international visitors to experience a piece of what WA has to offer.

“We have been successful in marketing WA’s key attributes as fresh, free, natural and spirited,” he said.

“This is exactly what visitors experience when they visit our State.”

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