Flight news tourism push

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
There are hopes the direct flights from Melbourne to Busselton-Margaret River Airport will improve tourism throughout the Lower South West.
Camera IconThere are hopes the direct flights from Melbourne to Busselton-Margaret River Airport will improve tourism throughout the Lower South West.

Lower South West tourism could be set to soar when Jetstar begins Melbourne flights to the $69.7 million Busselton-Margaret River Airport next year.

Flights on an Airbus A320 will begin on March 25 and Tourism WA will support the service with marketing on the east coast.

Friday’s announcement comes after the South West was named Lonely Planet’s number one destination in its Best in Asia Pacific 2019 list.

Manjimup shire president Paul Omodei said the decision was one of the most significant announcements for the South West in the past decade.

“I am full of praise for the City of Busselton and its staff and I would like to see the State Government bite the bullet and upgrade the terminal,” he said.

“The challenge for us now is to upgrade Graphite Road to make it better for increased traffic and tourist coaches, which we will have to apply for funding for.”

The Manjimup Shire Council on Thursday voted to allow a six-year lease – with the option to purchase – for tourist accommodation on Rose Street.

“We’re looking at an accommodation place with 46-odd units on it,” he said.

Southern Forests and Blackwood Valley Tourism Association chairman Paul Matenaar said the announcement timed well with the association’s release of its strategic plan, which looked at boosting tourism operators’ capacity to meet the demands of increased visitation.

“It is important our tourism businesses are ready and capable of making sure our visitors have an awesome time,” Mr Matenaar said.

Australia South West’s chief executive Catrin Allsop said the organisation was optimistic for an increase to regional tourism.

“We are confident that with reduced travelling time to arrive, visitors will be inspired to disperse, exploring other parts of the South West during their stay, creating a positive effect for tourism operators in the Margaret River region and beyond,” she said.

State Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said having a three-year direct route trial into the South West from the Eastern States could be a game-changer.

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