Busselton’s tourism chief says any name change for Busselton Regional Airport may be premature, as the Busselton City Council prepares to endorse an alternative.
Geographe Bay Tourism Association chief executive Simon Taylor urged the City to retain the current name as any change at this point was too soon.
“The City has achieved so much in the past year or so, the foreshore looks fantastic and has been packed over summer,” he said.
“I feel this is a reflection of where we are heading. We are at the beginning of carving out a stronger identity for the region.”
The item has been put before council after an approach by Tourism WA and it was considered timely as part of the final preparation of a business plan for the airport expansion.
In a report to the council, City officers recommended Busselton (Margaret River) Regional Airport as the preferred name, and said the renaming was important when marketing the region on a national and international scale as “it more effectively brands and positions the region”.
Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland previously told the Times the group strongly supported a name change.
In November, Mrs Buckland said Margaret River needed to be “at the forefront of the airport name” to fully capitalise on the airport upgrade.
“A recent survey of consumers in Sydney and Melbourne … shows that awareness of Busselton as a destination was 33 per cent and for Margaret River it was 79 per cent,” she said.
A July 2011 blog on the City’s website about the subject attracted 23 responses, of which 13 were opposed to the renaming.
Reasons against the name change include creating confusion as there is already a Margaret River Airport and the fact that many airports in the Eastern States do not reflect the tourism destination they are close to.
At this week’s agenda briefing session, deputy Mayor Tom Tuffin told the council a recent Capes Region Organisation of Councils meeting revealed the Busselton and Augusta-Margaret River local governments were supportive of Busselton coming first in the airport’s name.
Elected members were also told any name change would be reflected on airlines’ websites when bookings were made.
The preferred proposed name will be put out for community feedback after next Wednesday’s council vote, before a final decision is made on a potential renaming.