The latest figures from Tourism WA show the number of overnight visitors to the South West jumped by almost 25 per cent, from 2,398,600 in 2015 to 2,960,800 in 2016, while the amount they spent surged from $1.284 billion to $1.491 billion.
The vast majority were West Australians holidaying “down south”, making the South West the most visited part of the State outside of Perth, according to the Tourism WA data.
Some of the biggest crowds packed the region’s breweries and wineries this week, where a tussle of the tipples was being fought. Despite Margaret River’s wine dominance, a swag of new breweries have sprung up in the region, proving popular as punters quenched their thirst with a cold craft beer.
Wineries too are adding playgrounds and children’s activities to attract families. Aravina Estate’s European-designed playground is full of youngsters, while Laurance Wines offers a playground and sports equipment and Rivendell Winery Restaurant has a slide and bouncy castle to keep the kids occupied.
New eco-tourism experiences, including a zipline and high ropes course in Busselton’s tuart forest, new mountain bike trails and quad biking eco-adventures, also add another dimension for visitors.
The City of Busselton estimated its population of 36,000 doubled during the holiday period, with accommodation occupancy at 90 per cent — a big increase on last year when the Waroona-Yarloop bushfire hampered access to the region.
While most hotel and motel rooms are booked out, Airbnb was yesterday listing 21 rooms or properties available for rent tonight in Margaret River, starting from $87 a night twin share, while in Dunsborough there were 22 listings starting at $133 a night.