High hopes for a big tourism season for port city

d496155pFG Market Street. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
d496155pFG Market Street. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

EXPECTATIONS are high for Fremantle’s tourism sector as the summer holiday season rolls into the new year with positive feedback from the local chamber of commerce and businesses.

Events such as this week’s New Year’s Eve concert headlined by Cold Chisel, the annual Falls Festival at Fremantle Oval and Fringe World shows are expected to draw in tourists to an area already enjoying a renaissance for holidaymakers and day-trippers.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce and Industries president Ivan Dzeba said November and December had been busy months, with more people coming to the port city.

“There has been a noticeable increase in overseas tourists due to a cruise ship season commencement helped by recently launched direct flights from Tokyo to Perth, as well as a start of tourist season with northern hemisphere tourists visiting Australia,” he said.

“In general the visitor numbers and overnight stays are up on last year, with figures looking great for the early part of January.

“Hotels in Fremantle are reporting a positive increase in corporate guests with an increased number of conferences being held in town combined with pre- and post-cruise ship accommodation bookings.”

Mr Dzeba said the recent Clipper Round the World Yacht Race stopover had also helped.

“Fremantle Markets has had a record number of visitors in November and tracking for a record breaking December,” he said.

“The last two weeks of December could prove to be the busiest with tourists visiting and staying in Fremantle during holidays, and we know there’s a bumper January with cruise ship arrivals as well as Dinosaur Come Alive exhibition which runs from January 1 to February 2.”

Fremantle Markets chief executive Natasha Atkinson was pleased the markets had 2.6 million visitors in 2009 even before the start of the traditional December holiday period.

“I put it down to marketing 101 and doing all the little things right,” she said.

“I think the direct flights between Perth and Tokyo has seen an increase in Japanese tourists and the Chinese, Singaporean and Malaysian markets are still important for us.

“It’s a really exciting time to be in Fremantle, especially with the Old Synagogue opening.

“There’s a buzz that spills out from the markets onto Parry Street and towards that venue.”

Quest Hotel Fremantle property manager Lynn Stollery said bookings at the hotel were about double compared to previous years.

“That can be put down to a change of management but also Jimmy Barnes coming to town, the Falls Festival and other events,” she said.

“The opening of rooftop bars and cafes is creating a better hub for food and beverage compared to Perth.”