Holidaymakers stay close to home

Picturesque scenery, fine food, wine, markets and the arts – just some of the attractions in the Hills.
Picturesque scenery, fine food, wine, markets and the arts – just some of the attractions in the Hills.

Tourism Minister Kim Hames has revealed a boom in home-turf travel, with more than five million WA residents holidaying locally for the year ended in March. He said the recently released figures revealed a 6.4 per cent increase on the amount of local tourism on the previous year, which equated to 312,000 visitors.

‘This figure is 5.6 per cent ahead of the national average,’ he said.

Dr Hames attributed the growth to the Experience Extraordinary brand, which promotes WA tourism hot spots.

‘We believe (the brand) has been successful in raising awareness of the numerous and diverse extraordinary experiences and destinations WA has to offer,’ he said.

But it remains unclear if WA people are heading for the Perth Hills, which is heavily populated with tourist attractions, as well as premium accommodation.

John Fomenko, of Chalets on Stoneville, said visitors had come from WA, interstate and overseas since it first opened 14 years ago.

‘I don’t think there have been any changes for us; we get people from all over the place and there doesn’t seem to be more from one area than another,’ he said.

Mr Fomenko said he had seen an overall drop in the number of visitors in the past couple of months.

‘From talking to other business owners, they have experienced that same thing,’ he said.

Wendy Thomas, from Discovery Holiday Parks in Forrestfield, said she had not noticed an increase in WA travellers.

‘I don’t think numbers have changed in the past year,’ she said.

It is a different story for Bickley Valley Retreat Bed and Breakfast owner Lesley Duncalf, who said her customers were almost exclusively from WA.

‘I rarely have anyone stay here who is from the eastern states,’ she said.

‘Most people come here from the northern suburbs of Perth, but I have also had people from Rockingham and Mandurah, and as far away as Geraldton and Albany.’

Ms Duncalf said Bickley Valley often drew people who wanted a weekend getaway to celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Caroline Babbage, chairwoman of the tourism division of the Kalamunda Chamber of Commerce, who also runs her own bed and breakfast ” Fawkes House Country Spa Retreat and Day Spa ” said she used the Experience Perth website to attract visitors.

‘About 95 per cent of the |people who stay here are from WA and about 80 per cent are from Perth,’ she said.

Mundaring and Kalamunda Shire acting chief executives concurred there was no way to determine if State Government promotions of WA had any impact on the Perth Hills, but both welcomed more support to promote the Perth Hills.

Mundaring’s Mark Luzi said data collected over five years showed the number of tourists at Mundaring Visitor Centre had remained ‘fairly static’. ‘However, there has been a rapid growth in online activity, with more than 115 per cent increase in traffic to our website,’ he said.

Kalamunda’s Clayton Higham said almost 26,000 visitors came to the Kalamunda Cultural Centre last year and the latest data show it is on track to attract a similar number this year.