Bunbury leaders back tourism push

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury’s dolphins are a massive tourism driver for the city.
Camera IconBunbury’s dolphins are a massive tourism driver for the city. Credit: WA News

Bunbury’s leaders have weighed in on the tourism industry’s $130 million mayday call to the State Government, saying the city is well placed to attract visitors into the future.

Tourism Council of WA chief executive officer Evan Hall this week claimed that businesses and jobs in the sector were “doomed” if plummeting visitor numbers were not treated as a “State emergency”.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said the Government’s commitment to the multi-million-dollar Transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront project was creating an “unparalleled” local tourism attraction that would pay dividends for decades to come.

“It is important to remember State Government investment in tourism extends far beyond marketing and promotional funding,” Mr Punch said.

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“Investments in infrastructure are an important component of tourism support and the popularity of the newly redeveloped Dolphin Discovery Centre this summer and its ability to draw visitors to Bunbury is an excellent example.”

In a submission ahead of Treasurer Ben Wyatt’s Budget in May, the Tourism Council has asked the Government for an extra $26 million a year over the next five years.

Mr Punch said he was confident the Government recognised Bunbury’s tourism potential and its ability to enhance the region’s reputation as a tourism destination.

Mayor Gary Brennan said he was “not complaining” about the Government’s spend in Bunbury and the city’s events program was the most tangible evidence of “thousands” of new visitors.

“I’m very, very relaxed with the amount of support the State Government’s giving Bunbury at the present time,” Mr Brennan said.

“It’s a matter for the State Government to determine where their priorities are, but I’m not complaining about the investment into Bunbury.

“I think it’s been terrific, we can always do more, we’ve just got to realise that at the moment, household debt in Australia is probably at its all time high, people’s spending confidence is fairly low so travel within Australia has been subdued.

“The events program is probably the most tangible evidence that we are doing very well, we have attracted thousands of new visitors to Bunbury and the South West.

“We now have a coordinated approach to tourism marketing within the Bunbury Geographe region and that is a very positive outcome, so we’re pulling together, we’re all on the same page.

“And there’s more to come, the State Government’s investment in the Bunbury waterfront has been a significant boost to our infrastructure and that’s even more tangible when you see the investment that Discovery Parks is about to make at Koombana.

“The magnificent Koombana Bay foreshore redevelopment and the Dolphin Discovery Centre is a real show piece and it will become one of Bunbury’s major icons and attractions.

“The market is aware we’re getting more visitors to Bunbury, more people are moving down here.”

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