Karratha’s camp ‘hotels’ draw ire

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Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoPerth airline passengers enjoy one of the world’s cheapest air routes and tolerate one of the most expensive.

The City of Karratha says it has put temporary workforce accommodation providers on notice after years of complaints from hotel owners about the camps allegedly competing as “pretend” hotels.

Six camps — Cherratta Lodge, Karratha Village, Karratha Lodge, Aspen Village, Kingfisher Village and Civeo — have been present on a range of booking portals, some for as long as four years.

The sites are primarily used for business and leisure travel but are open to be used for work accommodation as well. City of Karratha development services director Ryan Hall said it was the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s responsibility to tackle online advertising issues.

“Nevertheless, the City has notified a number of transient workforce accommodation providers and advised them that their advertising could potentially lead to them breaching the conditions of their planning approval, which would lead to enforcement action by the City,” he said.

“If the City of Karratha receives complaints that any land is being used for purposes other than what it has been approved for, the City will investigate and take necessary action.”

The City’s TWA Policy states camps are not allowed to be used for commercial purposes other than accommodating transient workers without consent from the City.

The Pilbara News found evidence of tourist bookings advertising via online reviews at several camps. One also states it is for “work or play” on its website.

Only Aspen has land use approval for holiday accommodation.

Cherratta Lodge director Malcolm Wylie said the lodge had no interest in accommodating tourists, and had not received recent correspondence from the City warning against using online portals.

“Some people have slipped through the cracks, probably twice in the past three years,” he said.

“We don’t suit tourism and don’t want it.

“To have one person for one night is not worth it. The thing with those (booking) websites ... there is no box we can tick which says workforce accommodation.”

Mr Wylie said a presence on booking sites helped with search engine optimisation.

PRD nationwide managing director Angus Murray, a developer of The Ranges Karratha, said the City of Karratha had failed to protect the town planning scheme

Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods said planning concessions and approvals were not intended to allow camps to compete as holiday accommodation.

“The AHA is very concerned if TWA camps are also being used to directly compete with established hotels and other accommodation providers,” he said.

“Local Governments need to ensure that their own policies are enforced to protect their existing commercial ratepayers and safeguard those who create and maintain employment opportunities for residents.”

Owners of Karratha Village and Karratha Lodge were contacted for comment.

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