Margaret River has topped the list of destinations for international visitors to the South West, with new figures also showing an impressive rise in people holidaying at home.
Latest research from Tourism Research Australia showed the number of West Australians travelling within the State had increased by nearly 13 per cent in the September quarter of 2012, equating to 630,000 trips.
Margaret River also topped the list of South West locations for international visitors, attracting more than 52,000 people to the shire in 2011-12, according to TRA figures.
The next best location was the Albany subdistrict, which took in 32,000 international tourists.
The growth figures did not include November’s Gourmet Escape, which was expected to give an even bigger boost to the full 2012 visitor statistics.
Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association chief Simon Ambrose said the figures were heartening and the group would press on with promoting the region to Perth-based travellers in light of the positive trend.
“According to the AMRTA’s statistics, there has been an increase in the number of bookings by approximately 9 per cent from 2011 to 2012, and average spend and length of stay has remained on par to last year,” he told the Times.
“Visitor numbers through the doors of our visitor centres are also on par with last year.”
Mr Ambrose said Perth travellers made up 68 per cent of Margaret River’s visitors, compared to 17 per cent interstate and 15 per cent international tourists.
“For that reason the region’s official promoters would continue to flood the metropolitan market with Margaret River advertising,” he said.
“The people of Perth have a special affinity with the Margaret River region.
“It has been Perth’s number one holiday destination for years and we will strive to maintain that status.”
Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said the boost was a positive sign for the future.
The WA Government agency has a mission to double tourism numbers to the State.
“Intrastate visitors play a major role in WA’s tourism industry, accounting for about 70 per cent of all visitors,” she said.
A slump in leisure visitors remained a challenge for WA, Ms Buckland conceded.
Mr Ambrose said international travellers were next on the hit list for the group.
“Although Perth and intrastate market continues to be our key focus, we continue to work hard and invest in the growth and development of international markets,” he said.
Mr Ambrose expected visitation to climb steadily on the back of last month’s Gourmet Escape and the new world championship status of the Margaret River Pro, which comes into full effect in 2014.A number of Capes tourism proponents, including members of the breakaway Margaret River Marketing Co-operative, were unable to respond to inquiries from the Times due to the holiday break.
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