Ningaloo tourism season off to a flying start

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
VideoQANTAS slashes flights to as little as $338 return.

If visitor numbers in April are anything to go by, Exmouth is in for a stellar 2019 tourist season.

The town and Ningaloo were packed over the school holidays and Easter weekend, with accommodation booked out, the local IGAs out of stock and many of the whale shark tour operators turning away customers.

Exmouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Barry Sullivan said the town was filled with both West Australians and internationals.

“Most of the local businesses suggested that the first Saturday of Easter was the biggest day in most of their businesses history,” he said.

Mr Sullivan believes the recent announcement of subsidised flights to Exmouth could account for some of the extra visitors over the holidays.

“We hope that the businesses get some benefit out of what’s been a lot of recent recognition of Exmouth’s value in the tourism portfolio,” he said.

“All the pointers are suggesting the trend will continue and it will be a great year, but every year is different and what could begin as a terrific start doesn’t always finish that way.”

Ningaloo Discovery, which operate whale shark tours, were at 100 per cent occupancy and owner Matt Oakley said they had a waiting list of 60 to 70 people.

“We were booked out a couple of months before the school holidays even started,” he said.

“We had several individuals and families that went on multiple tours, they booked to go out on the sailing catamaran and then booked again to go on the power boat.”

“Our new power boat has a second level, so there’s a sort of viewing area, which is a great vantage point especially for those that don’t want to get in the water.”

The ECCI is encouraging visitors to book their accommodation and tours well in advance to avoid disappointment, especially if the bumper season does continue on in similar fashion.

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