Rotto changes spark backlash
Unwelcome changes: Rottnest Island. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

Rottnest authorities are facing a visitor backlash on two fronts, with holidaymakers upset with hefty bus fare increases and a new online booking system that is forcing some guests to swap accommodation during their stay.

The fares for the around-the-island bus service have increased from $30 to $50 (67 per cent) for a family, $14 to $20 (43 per cent) for an adult and $6 to $12 (100 per cent) for a child.

The Rottnest Island Authority says the increases are benchmarked against other holiday destinations. They say the service, which has been renamed Island Explorer and now takes visitors to the West End, has been well received.

But Fremantle MP Simone McGurk says the increases are another blow to affordable family holidays on the island.

"I took a ride on the Rottnest bus recently and was stunned that it wasn't even air-conditioned, she said. "You have to start questioning some of the spending priorities on the island, like the $1.6 million upgrade of the golf course."

Under the new online booking system, reservations - and payments - are accepted but several days later, the holidaymaker can be informed that they will be required to move from one unit to another during their stay.

"Where would this happen anywhere else in the world," one holidaymaker complained.

"You book your stay, you pay your money and then get told you have to move from one unit to another.

"And that was after taking a couple hours to manoeuvre around their complicated website."

Another holidaymaker said she had decided to cut short her holiday to avoid the disruption of moving to another unit for the last night of her family's stay.

Her money has been refunded for the one night.

The RIA has admitted the booking system has had some teething problems.

A spokeswoman said: "Following any new online booking a RIA staff member will advise visitors via phone if the unit is not available for the entire duration of their stay and give visitors the option of moving or a different unit for the entire stay."

The West Australian

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