Football to the rescue?

Geelong fans could be visiting Margaret River under a new proposal by the Tourism Council of WA

A new tourism plan for Perth unveiled this week offers hope for a dramatic boost in visitors to the region, with a study showing 45 per cent of east coast football fans also take a trip to Margaret River.

Tourism Council of WA chief executive Evan Hall said the long-awaited tourism plan sought WA Government confirmation that 10,000 seats in the new 60,000 seat Perth stadium would be kept aside for non-club members because a Edith Cowan University study showed huge tourism benefits.

Mr Hall said part of the vision anticipated 2000 to 3000 east coast football tourists and their family making winter trips to Margaret River during fixtures in WA.

“The reason why we’ve focused on freeing up Perth is because it is the gateway or perhaps the bottleneck to the Margaret River region, ” Mr Hall said.

The benefits of football tourism was well known, he said, with Queensland’s development of the Gold Coast Suns football team largely driven by the aim to capture the Victorian leisure market.

“They literally made this one team so they could have away matches for the big Victorian clubs, ” Mr Hall said.

“Two thousand to 3000 of them will stay on in Margaret River after the match, ” he said.

“It’s not just about Perth, but about getting people out to places like Margaret River.”

Augusta-Margaret River Tourism Association chief executive Pip Close said the benefits of cashed up football fans was well known in tourism circles.

“Evan would be quite correct in that it presents enormous potential for Perth and the region of Margaret River, ” she said.

“The primary reason for their visitation of course would be the game, but I think the two go well together and our region would enhance their visit.”

South West MLC Barry House said the TCWA proposal had a lot of merit.

“Anything that promotes Perth as a tourism destination will also promote the Margaret River Region as the most visited area in regional WA, ” he said.

“This region provides the best quality array of attractions for visitors through accommodation, events, wine, food, surf beaches and lifestyle, and extra eastern States football followers would enjoy access to this great corner of our State and provide incentive for local businesses to further improve the area as an internationally-recognised destination, ” he said.

The tourism plan has drawn attention for suggesting a cable car between the city and Kings Park amid a range of proposals to double the WA tourism market in the next six years.

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