Mining area’s big tourism opportunities

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Stand-up paddle boarders in Dampier.
Camera IconStand-up paddle boarders in Dampier. Credit: City of Karratha

Changing the perception of Karratha from a dusty mining bowl to a thriving regional city is necessary to attract more tourists to the area and encourage people to make the city their home.

The notion was raised last week at the WA Regional Tourism Conference by City of Karratha chief executive Chris Adams, who said the town had changed a lot over the last decade.

“We’re not worried about the next five years and we have the ability to set a long-term vision,” he said.

“We want to become Australia’s most liveable regional city and that guides all of our decision making.”

New buildings such as the Red Earth Arts Precinct, Karratha Leisureplex and The Quarter HQ, and updates to existing facilities such as the airport and road networks have all been funded or supported by the City.

Mr Adams said the City had focused on the four pillars of growth — infrastructure; housing and land; community projects; and economic diversity — and taken calculated risks to make that growth happen.

“We closed the town swimming pool to build an office block and knocked down an aged care centre to build REAP — they were ballsy decisions but they were the right ones,” he said.

“We’ve been so mining-dependent and in the past that’s sucked up other industries, but we’re now actively trying to grow new industries, like tourism.”

He said when it came to tourism, Karratha was not top-of-mind when it came to must-see destinations, but the City had been working hard to improve attractions, accessibility, accommodation, amenities and activities in the area.

“The Pilbara is probably the least developed tourism region in WA, but the opportunities are huge,” Mr Adams said.

“Seven or eight years ago the only place to get a coffee was Maccas.

“We now have a dozen choices of place to choose from, so our restaurant and cafe offers have significantly improved.”

The City has not been alone in its efforts, with the the majority of projects jointly funded by partnerships with State and Federal Government, private partners and resources companies.

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