Centre opening heralds new era in South West tourism

Nicole SalmeriSouth Western Times
Street performers Francessco Garuti, Alessandro Galletti and Louie the Dolphin will create waves this weekend at the grand opening of the new Dolphin Discovery Centre.
Camera IconStreet performers Francessco Garuti, Alessandro Galletti and Louie the Dolphin will create waves this weekend at the grand opening of the new Dolphin Discovery Centre. Credit: Nicole Salmeri

Tourism experts are tipping Bunbury’s Dolphin Discovery Centre to pump millions of dollars into the economy every year as the new-look tourist attraction gears up for its official grand opening this weekend.

Centre chief executive David Kerr said close to $17 million in tourism cash was expected each year as the centre attracted visitors from across the globe.

While the centre has been open since December, Premier Mark McGowan will cut the ribbon tomorrow night following months of finishing touches and fine-tuning of the $12.3 million redevelopment.

The ribbon cutting event will be followed by a jam-packed Dolphin Festival for the entire community across Saturday and Sunday.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


Mr Kerr said the long-term benefits of the facility were endless and following the State Government’s announcement of direct flights between Tokyo and Perth, the centre was likely to see an increase in Japanese tourists along with other international visitors.

“Over the more recent times there has been a drop off in visitation down to our centre from Japan and I think that is due to decreased flight activity,” Mr Kerr said

“I am really expecting there will be a great opportunity for us to leverage off of those direct flights and to get some significant additional visitation from Japan.”

Mr Kerr said the big influx of tourists would also bring substantial economic growth to Bunbury as well as the broader Geographe region.

“One of the projections suggests that it would bring roughly $17 million to the local economy per year,” Mr Kerr said. “The bigger picture for me is us positioning the city as a destination that people will go to because they’re actually looking for it.

“We really want people setting out from their originating point and heading to Bunbury as their planned destination.”

Australia’s South West chief executive Catrin Allsop said the centre was a great attraction to get people to the city before they explored the entire region further.

“It is always beneficial to have a hub in a location as people will be drawn to coming to the Dolphin Discovery Centre and from there will seek other activities in the wider Geographe area,” she said.

Ms Allsop will travel to Japan next week to promote key experiences and said the centre would be highlighted as a major attraction.

“Now that the Dolphin Discovery Centre has been redeveloped, it offers a premium wildlife experience to international tourists and they are definitely seeking those close interactions with our wildlife,” Ms Allsop said.

“We have found an increase in interest in the Bunbury region and I think that is the new foreshore as a whole and not just the Dolphin Discovery Centre redevelopment.”

“It is a more attractive package as a whole.”

The Dolphin Festival starts with a pancake breakfast on Saturday.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails