Rottnest Island gets water taxis, parasailing, tapas and cocktails, and child care among new services

Rebecca Le MayThe West Australian
Rottnest Island will boast six new services this summer — including water taxis, parasailing and mobile massages.
Camera IconRottnest Island will boast six new services this summer — including water taxis, parasailing and mobile massages. Credit: The West Australian

Rottnest Island will boast six new services this summer — including water taxis and parasailing — to provide more lures to the popular holiday destination.

The businesses were picked through an expressions of interest process, and also include a mobile massage service for Stay Rottnest accommodation guests, scenic flights, and a pop-up tent at The Basin offering ice-creams, tapas and cocktails.

Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti said the extra services came on the back of record visitor numbers to the island in November.

The water taxi will depart from Thomson Bay, while the kids’ holiday care is for children aged four to 12 years, “giving parents a little bit of a break”, she said.

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“What we’ve seen is an incredible increase in visitation to the island last financial year — over 720,000 people — that’s up 20 per cent from previous years.

“And we’re still tracking well above our pre-COVID visitation.”

The recent Perth Coldplay concerts drove record throngs of interstate tourists to Rottnest in November, while the new Japan direct flight service had helped international tourism bounce back, Ms Saffioti said.

The minister did not put a figure on future tourist projection numbers for Rottnest but said it was set to increase, supporting the case for offering more experiences and services.

“We’ve seen demand increase incredibly and I think that’s going to be sustained,” she said.

To support the island’s businesses, there was a focus on boosting visitors in the quieter, cooler months from July-September, Ms Saffioti said.

It was part of the rationale for offering heavily subsidised — or free — ferries, accommodation, bike hire and admission fees for WA’s most disadvantaged schools in Term 3 of 2024.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we have a sustainable visitation throughout the year . . . the camps is an example,” Ms Saffioti said.

Rottnest Chamber of Commerce vice-chair Holly Brindle said an expression of interest process for businesses keen to set up shop at Rottnest would be held each year.

Some would only be there for summer, while others would be permanent additions.

“It’s a bit of a mix,” Ms Brindle said.

“Some of the businesses will be joining us year-round. Others will be operating in that peak season just to try and alleviate some of the pressure over our busier months.”

When pressed on the perennial issue dogging the island — affordability — Ms Saffioti said it was something being looked at “constantly”.

“There are still very affordable options . . . the camping ground but also the Caroline Thomson units,” she said.

“We’re looking at how we can increase the amount of affordable units on the island as well because of the incredible demand.”

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