Council have shown their support for the development of tourism at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands and have asked the State Government to help make it a reality.
At this week’s Council Meeting, Council agreed to write a response to a request from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DCBA) to show support for future developments at the Abrolhos Islands, including the creation of a Class-A National Park.
City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said developing tourism at the Abrolhos Islands would be the economic boost the region and the state needed – a real game changer.
“While the Midwest economy is showing signs of improvement, there is still a long way to go and we agree that properly managed tourism based on the Houtman Abrolhos has the potential to not only significantly lift the local economy but also enhance WA’s overall visitation statistics,” he said.
“This has been identified as our game changer project.
“Ironically, a great deal of ‘unofficial tourism’ already exists on the Islands and at times hundreds of people arrive in boats they own or charter to enjoy some of the world’s best coral formations and a unique ecosystem.
“It is one of the most untapped sources of tourism in the state and it is important we monitor what is happening over there and moving forward we need to permit environmentally sensitive development of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands for tourist orientated purposes,” he added.
In August 2017, the City adopted the Abrolhos Islands Tourism Policy which supports the development of sustainable tourism on the Islands as a means to diversifying and expanding the City and regional economies and to grow local employment in the tourism industry.
The City is highly recommending the $10,000,000 allocated by the State Government be used on the construction of tourism enabling infrastructure.
The City will form an Abrolhos Islands Tourism Development Committee to ensure there is a clear focus.
Mayor Van Styn also added that a body similar to the Rottnest Island Authority, would be needed to have overarching responsibility for the Islands.
“If managed properly, the benefits to local employment and investment would be huge,” he said.
“With best practice management in place of the Islands’ terrestrial and marine environment, we could create huge opportunities but it will be imperative to preserve the area’s nature, culture and visitor appeal.
“In 2017 WA was the only state in which tourism declined and we believe the Abrolhos Islands has what it takes to be the turning point for tourism in WA.”