New push to promote Esperance tourism

ESPERANCE must better market its range of accommodation options if it is to embrace an influx of visitors to WA driven by Perth's new high-end accommodation.

This is the view of tourism experts across the region, who believe new hotel developments in Perth - such as the 500-room Crown Towers complex will help drive a surge of cashed-up tourists into the regions.

Tourism Esperance chairwoman Cindy Poole said Esperance needed to promote its diverse accommodation including boutique high-end options - if it was to make the most of the expected surge.

Ms Poole said quality accommodation was one of the keys to enticing visitors to regional areas.

"We need to ensure these people are aware of what Esperance has on offer and that we can accommodate them accordingly," she said.

Australia's Golden Outback (AGO) chief executive officer Jac Eerbeek said one of its major challenges in promoting tourism to the international markets has been the lack of availability and high hotel prices in Perth.

AGO is the peak tourism marketing organisation responsible for the branding, positioning and marketing of the region, including locations like Esperance.

He said the problem had been further exacerbated by the high Australian dollar, which is now declining slightly.

"More hotel rooms in Perth even if they are at the luxury 6-star end like Crown Towers in Perth and the new Carlton Ritz to be built at Elizabeth Quay will ease overall congestion in all hotels and increase competition," he said.

"Some people staying in the current 5-stars will move into the new 6-stars. The 5-stars will then lower their prices to attract the 4-star business and so on all the way down the line."

Mr Eerbeek said Esperance, as well as the wider AGO region, was fortunate in that a large percentage of its international visitors tended to be from northern Europe.

He said the visitors only stayed in Perth city for a night or two before heading into the region for the rest of their stay.

"Even though they don't stay in Perth city very long, lack of availability and high cost rooms have been a definitive disincentive when their euro has been buying less," he said.

Ms Poole said although Esperance may not have the conventional 5-star hotel accommodation options of locations like Perth, it was fortunate to have a number of high quality alternative options.

"Esperance has some beautiful, private self-contained apartments and a number of bed and breakfasts," she said.

"People looking for a higher class of accommodation can come to Esperance for an entirely different experience."

The comments follow a Western Australian Supreme Court decision last week enabling the Crown Towers hotel development to proceed.

The new 500-room 6-star Perth hotel will cost $570 million to build and will open in 2016.

Tourism Council WA chief executive officer Evan Hall said the new hotel would be a major step forward in addressing Perth's hotel shortage.

Mr Hall said accommodation shortages in Perth was a key limiting factor to the state's tourism growth.

The council released its landmark tourism strategy, Destination Perth, last week. Among its findings was that additional hotel rooms in Perth would lead to a boost of visitors heading into regional destinations such as Esperance.

Have your say: Tell us what you think about Experance's accommodation options. Email lauren.vardy@fair faxmedia.com.au.

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