‘Loved to death’

Geoff Vivian & Caitlyn WattsMidwest Times
Swimming with a young whaleshark at Ningaloo Reef. File picture: WA News
Camera IconSwimming with a young whaleshark at Ningaloo Reef. File picture: WA News Credit: WA News

Gascoyne accommodation providers have had a mixed reaction to the Federal Government offer of 800,000 discounted air fares to stimulate tourism, which snubbed all but one WA destination.

While the offer included various locations in other States, Broome was the only WA airport in the mix.

Last week Exmouth Shire warned potential visitors the Ningaloo coast was at risk of being “loved to death”, urging tourists not to visit without pre-booked accommodation.

While Carnarvon’s Ningaloo Caravan and Holiday Resort manager Ray Beven said it was “a bit unfair” to only include Broome in the subsidised fares, they were already extremely busy.

“We’re totally booked out come first of April so it’s not going to help us right now, the whole town is actually full,” he said.

“We have got a two-week lull in May then the grey nomads start coming and we fill up again.”

Ningaloo Coral Bay director Alistair Brogan agreed.

“A lot of Western Australians are planning to come up to our Ningaloo region over the next six months,” he said.

“We have very strong bookings for that period to the extent where people are planning to come across from the east coast we’re struggling to get them in for the season.

“Putting on extra flights to the Ningaloo region when there is no accommodation for them would make it very difficult.”

In Carnarvon the tourism industry is quieter.

Port Hotel owner Merome Beard said subsidising flights to Broome was no help because there were no connecting flights.

“It’s not helping people move around WA at all,” she said.

“It’s difficult to compete with the east coast. Comparatively speaking it’s a lot cheaper to fly around the east coast between destinations.”

Heritage Resort Shark Bay manager Panti said the subsidised fares should be available to more destinations.

“In Shark Bay-Denham we are quite far from Broome,” she said.

Places like Exmouth continue to grapple with accommodation shortages and increased visitor demand in the COVID-19 era.

With tourist season fast approaching, the Shire of Exmouth has reminded travellers that overflow facilities were not guaranteed and free camping was not allowed.

Shire president Matthew Niikkula said surging tourist demand meant the town was at risk of being loved to death.

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