The $247,313 worth of funding was secured as part of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism’s Tourism Industry Regional Development Funds Grant to allow backpacker accommodation provider YHA Australia to join with Fremantle Prison to incorporate a 200-bed hostel within its walls.
City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the prison was WA’s only World Heritage site and was a key tourist attraction.
‘The City is supportive of the concept, subject to the design being consistent with the heritage values of the prison,’ he said.
‘The use is potentially a very good one that will have the benefit of giving visitors a unique and memorable experience of staying in a prison cell.
‘Such a development would be beneficial to tourism and if done sensitively will have only a minor impact on the heritage value of the prison.’
Tourism WA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said in the year to September 2012 Fremantle attracted almost 788,000 visitors who contributed $238 million to the local economy.
‘The hostel will provide much needed accommodation in Fremantle, as well as giving visitors an extraordinary experience,’ she said. ‘The operator will have the unique opportunity to combine backpacker accommodation with one of the State’s major tourist attractions, the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison.
‘It is important for any destination to offer visitors a range of accommodation options and Tourism WA is pleased that, in addition to the hostel, a potential hotel development has been earmarked for Fremantle, at the old Spicer site, as part of the King’s Square redevelopment.’
Fremantle Prison was unable to comment before deadline.