Abrolhos is next big drawcard for tourism

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Tourism WA chairman Nathan Harding says the Mid West is a big hit with Japanese tourists.
Camera IconTourism WA chairman Nathan Harding says the Mid West is a big hit with Japanese tourists. Credit: Geraldton Guardian, Francesca Mann

Direct flights from Tokyo, Japan to Perth and the Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park will take tourism in Geraldton to the next level, according to Tourism WA chairman Nathan Harding.

From September 1, Japan’s All Nippon Airways will operate the direct flight, bringing scores of visitors to the State each day.

During a three-day visit to Geraldton, Mr Harding told The Geraldton Guardian the Mid West would “really benefit” from the new flights.

“Japanese tourists really love this region,” he said.

“Most of them come for the wildflower season, and this region really punches above its weight for the market share of Japanese visitors.

“They tend to be much more adventurous and happy to get out in the car and drive themselves.

“They will be attracted by the attractions that are already big here — the Pink Lake, Kalbarri, the wildflowers — but even more so, they love the unexpected, quirky things along the way.

“Rather than just being here for the wildflowers, they’ll be here 12 months of the year.”

About 60km off the Geraldton coast is the region’s best-kept secret — the 122 islands that make up the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.

The State Government has allocated $10 million over the next two years for capital works at the proposed Houtman Abrolhos Islands National Park, on track to be created in July.

Tourism WA Chairman Nathan Harding believes the Houtman Abrolhos Islands will be the region’s next major tourism attraction.
Camera IconTourism WA Chairman Nathan Harding believes the Houtman Abrolhos Islands will be the region’s next major tourism attraction. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

With pristine beaches, crystal blue water and unique wildlife, Mr Harding said the archipelago would be Geraldton’s next major tourism drawcard. “I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I went out there for the first time the other day, but it’s even more spectacular than I imagined,” he said.

“It’s a remarkable pristine reef that’s right on the doorstop of some other remarkable attractions, and it makes a great itinerary for visitors. (The national park) really gives people even more reason to come here.

“I think the Abrolhos will become the next Pink Lake for the region.”

The Tourism WA board and senior executive team were in Geraldton last month for their regional board meeting, held twice a year.

During the three-day trip, the group met key stakeholders and local tourism operators, and visited the region’s big-ticket attractions. “Geraldton is a really important regional centre and destination in its own right,” Mr Harding said.

“We’re really optimistic and bullish for this region — its future is looking amazing.”

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