WA tourism landmarks to receive $150 million face lift under coronavirus recovery plan

The West Australian Government will spend $150 million upgrading infrastructure at tourism destinations across the state, including Rottnest Island, Perth Zoo, Kings Park and Karijini National Park in the Pilbara region.

A total of $31 million will be spent to upgrade roads and water supply infrastructure on Rottnest Island, which has reopened to tourists after being a quarantine zone earlier in the state’s COVID-19 response.

The Perth Zoo will receive $10 million to upgrade its cafe and function areas, while improved campsites and boardwalks will be constructed at Karijini National Park.

Another $20 million has been set aside for bike trails in Kalamunda and Mundaring, in the Perth Hills, as well as in Albany, Denmark and Margaret River.

Just over $1 million will be spent building a permanent stage to host art and cultural activities at Kings Park.

The Government has also committed nearly $4 million to draw tourists to Aboriginal cultural sites for attractions such as “camping with custodians” on the Dampier Peninsula, in the Kimberley.

Wildflowers at the base of a mountain at sunrise.
Campsites and boardwalks will be upgraded at Karijini National Park.(ABC Open contributor Pilbara Colours)

“[This] is a great opportunity for Western Australia because of our huge, rich and diverse Aboriginal cultural offering,” Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said.

Premier Mark McGowan said while some WA towns had been overflowing with visitors from Perth since regional travel boundaries were lifted, the recovery package was necessary to continue the state’s economic recovery amid the pandemic.

Mr McGowan said the program — which is part of the Government’s $5.5 billion economic recovery plan in response to the pandemic — also included affordable airfares to further encourage West Australians to explore their home state.

Recently-announced discounted flights to Broome and Kununurra sold out in seven days.

Image of tourists gathered on an overlook near a beach taking photos of the sunset.
Low-cost airfares to Broome sold out within a week due to demand from intrastate visitors.(ABC Kimberley: Sam Tomlin)

The Government said more flight deals to tourism destinations around the state would be announced, including to areas such as Monkey Mia, Carnarvon and Albany.

Mr Papalia said the investment would also help to attract interstate tourists to WA when the hard border was removed.

“We’re fixing things up and ensuring they can meet the demand of the future,” Mr Papalia said.

Hard border removal a ‘long way away’

Mr McGowan said it was still too early to say when the state’s hard border would be lifted, but said it would be “certainly months” away.

“Every time you put a date on it, you have to change.”

Mr McGowan reiterated that he would not remove the hard border until community transmission in the eastern states had been eliminated.

However, the Government may be forced to reverse its policy if Clive Palmer wins his legal challenge in the High Court.

Mr McGowan said he was disappointed Mr Palmer had not dropped the legal action.

“What we’re trying to do here is save the lives of West Australians and make sure that our economy can function properly within our borders. It’s really straightforward.”