Travel ban opens door

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Southern Forests and Valleys Tourism Association chief executive Wendy Duncan, incoming chairwoman Louise Stokes and outgoing chairman Paul Matenaar with Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan, second from right.
Camera IconSouthern Forests and Valleys Tourism Association chief executive Wendy Duncan, incoming chairwoman Louise Stokes and outgoing chairman Paul Matenaar with Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan, second from right. Credit: Busselton Dunsborough Times

The Southern Forests and Valleys Tourism Association has new a chairwoman, with Louise Stokes taking over from Paul Matenaar.

Mrs Stokes owns Holberry House in Nannup and said the period of recovery from COVID-19 offered an opportunity for the organisation.

“I think we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here, because travellers can’t go to Bali, they can’t go on cruises, they can’t go up north and yet everyone is going to want a holiday,” she said.

“In terms of a safe destination that offers adventure and authentic experiences, you can’t get any better than the Southern Forests and Valleys.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to sell a safe and affordable and relaxing holiday to a target audience who maybe have not explored their own backyard before.”

Her sentiments were shared by chief executive Wendy Duncan.

“I think we really are on the cusp of a new era of tourism in the South West, we are very lucky to be one of the first regions opened up, many of our businesses are gearing up for an influx from the Perth metropolitan area, where everyone has been locked up and has been dying to get out and get some fresh air,” Mrs Duncan said.

The appointment of Mrs Stokes was happily received by Mr Matenaar.

“I’m very pleased that Louise Stokes has taken over the chair and I've got the utmost confidence in her and the board moving forward to take the organisation and the region to reach its full potential,” he said.

Mrs Stokes paid tribute to Mr Matenaar and his contributions to the organisation.

“Paul was awesome, he was an amazing leader for the organisation and has been with the development of the Southern Forests and Valleys since its inception,” Mrs Stokes said.

“I’d like to acknowledge the work Paul did and the steering group who have been with this organisation since the beginning and believed in it.”

Mrs Duncan joined Mrs Stokes in paying tribute to Mr Matenaar.

“Paul has really worked hard in the establishment of the Southern Forests and Blackwood Valley Tourism Association,” she said.

“His experience in branding and marketing and also his previous experience leading the small business development corporation activities in Manjimup were just vital at the time of establishing our little organisation.”

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