Tourism Research Australia | Margaret River region bucks trend for regional dispersal of tourists

International tourists who visit the Busselton Jetty has now reached 34 per cent. Image supplied.

International tourists who visit the Busselton Jetty has now reached 34 per cent. Image supplied.

The Margaret River region has bucked the trend of Australia's low regional visitor numbers with the number of international visitors increasing.

The number of international tourists visiting the Busselton Jetty has now reached 34 per cent and the number of international overnight visitors to the region has increased by 4 per cent.

Tourism Research Australia recently released a report The Beach, Bush and Beyond: Understanding regional dispersal of Australian Tourists.

The report found in the year 2017-18, there were more than 9 million international trips to Australia, and another 100 million domestic overnight trips.

While there was growth in Asian markets, there was a decrease of international visitors visiting regional areas, as Asian visitors were less likely to disperse regionally.

The report found that international tourists were more likely to take day trips to regional areas and it was hard to convert day trips into overnight trips.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Bureau joint chief executive officer Steve Harrison said encouraging international visitors to stay longer in the region was something they were focused on through marketing.

Mr Harrison said it was encouraging to see that this report highlighted the work of MRBTA as an example of a region doing the right things to encourage regional tourists to stay longer than a day trip.

"The example included in the report is the association's work in developing tailored itineraries for different traveler types, including a number of different wine tours, as well as itineraries for nature lovers, dog owners, families, luxury seekers, and special occasions," he said.

"These itineraries are just one element of our marketing and visitor servicing strategy, which aims to provide visitors with inspiration and information via the method which is most convenient to them.

"The report places significant emphasis on reaching visitors in the very early stages of their travel planning.

"There are a number of tourism operators in this region which have successfully gained exposure in different markets by working with travel trade partners such as wholesalers, online travel agents (OTA's) and retail travel agents.

"For businesses which are yet to venture into this type of activity, there are a number of resources available to help them get started, through Tourism Council WA, Australian Tourism Export Council and the region's Wine Tourism Development Business Coaching Program."

Busselton Jetty chief executive officer Lisa Shreeve said the report was welcomed by industry to leverage the pulling power of promoting regional icons to benefit everyone.

"To get people to visit regional Australia is not easy," she said.

"First we have to get people's attention in a world full of amazing travel options and to do that you have to stand out, then spark their interest to want to know more, then arouse desire so they finally take action and book."

Ms Shreeve said the jetty's incredible beauty and aesthetic appeal in photos and videos was the reason why so many International tourists added it to their bucket list to visit.

"When you see the 1.8 kilometre jetty from the sky in the turquoise waters of Geographe Bay, it draws you in because it is unique and people want to brag to their friends they have been here," she said.

Ms Shreeve added it was important to market options for regional travel in conjunction with city stays adding that the South-West was not competing with Perth, it was competing with the rest of the world.

"We need to work together to put the pieces of the international tourist journey to regional WA together for visitors during their decision making process so it is very easy for them to make a decision to come to regional areas."

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said the South-West was the most popular international tourism destination in WA outside of Perth.

"The outstanding beaches, natural attractions and diverse tourism offerings are a huge drawcard for international visitors to the region," she said.

"The South-West has a critical role to play in further growing WA tourism. Margaret River is an established global brand and next month WA Gourmet Escape will showcase our world-class wine and food.

"It is critical that the state government continue to support the range of events and festivals in the region, including CinefestOz, Open Studios, Margaret River Pro and Busselton Jetty Swim, adding to the great variety which make up the regions popular events calendar."