Dunsborough visitor centre to close as visitors go online for information

Closing: The Dunsborough visitor centre will close on May 1, following findings that foot traffic has been declining. Picture: margaretrivermail.com
Closing: The Dunsborough visitor centre will close on May 1, following findings that foot traffic has been declining. Picture: margaretrivermail.com

From May this year Dunsborough visitors will have to go online or to Busselton for travel information after the announcement its visitor centre would be closing.

The Dunsborough Visitor Centre on Dunn Bay Road has offered advice and guides on the best things to see and do in the region, with locally-made souvenirs offered in the giftshop.

Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association (MRBTA) made the joint decision to close the centre alongside the Dunsborough Yallingup Chamber of Commerce, the City of Busselton, and the Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The move follows a 'Visitor Servicing Review', which found the Dunsborough centre had much less visitation than the centres in Busselton and Margaret River.

The review also found that the number of visitors using the destination website and chat, email and phone services had grown 'considerably', as foot traffic declines in all of its visitor centres.

MRBTA joint chief executive Sharna Kearney said that generally, the Dunsborough centre received around one third of the amount of visitors that Busselton received.

"A significant proportion of visitation to the Dunsborough Visitor Centre comes from non-tourists, and in particular, from tourism business and holiday home owners collecting visitor information to share with their guests," she said.

She said that closing the Dunsborough visitor centre would allow the MRBTA to invest in other ways of sharing visitor information, including online, at the other visitor centres, and at the Busselton Margaret River Airport.

It follows after the Augusta visitor centre was replaced with two 'Visitor Information Hubs' in 2019, as the MRBTA focused on a strategy to make local businesses a key source of visitor information.

The way in which visitors are accessing information has changed significantly over the past decade.

Sharna Kearney

Ms Kearney said that despite closing the visitor centre, Dunsborough was expected to continue to have a strong appeal for travellers, with multiple marketing campaigns in the works to encourage visitors to "stay longer, do more and spend more" in the area.

She said the recently launched Jetstar route connecting Melbourne to Busselton meant that passengers were expected to disperse into Dunsborough.

Ms Kearney said the upcoming 'Drive Your Story' and 'South West Wanderer' campaigns will target east coast visitors with information ahead of their arrival.

A visitor information display at the Airport Arrivals Hall will also provide tourist information for interstate visitors.

Ms Kearney said the staff in the visitor servicing team for the Dunsborough centre could work across multiple locations, and woiuld all be reallocated.

The MRBTA has also recently redeveloped 'margaretriver.com', and has been cross training visitor centre staff into central reservations.

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