Eco Beach airstrip to boost tourism

Nicola KalmarBroome Advertiser
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A new $100,000 airstrip has been developed at award-winning Broome resort Eco Beach to help bolster tourism and provide easier access for visitors to the Kimberley.

The 2km airstrip, supported by Yawuru traditional owners, aims to attract more visitors to the Kimberley with cost-effective airfares and easier access to the resort, shaving travel time from two hours by road to 25 minutes by flight.

The airstrip will also provide a vital link for emergency services.

To mark the milestone in the resort’s 15-year history, Eco Beach managing director Karl Plunkett was joined by Yawuru traditional owner Neil McKenzie, tourism representatives and media onboard a Broome Air Services Cessna Caravan aircraft for a scenic maiden flight from Broome to the resort.

Mr Plunkett told the Broome Advertiser the development had been in the pipeline for many years and marked a significant moment.

“It’s a very exciting day; both Neil (McKenzie) and I have been here for 15 years and it gives us a much easier place to operate for safety reasons and more access to town,” he said.

“The airstrip was always part of what we needed here to make the place operational … logistical issues took a longer time to achieve it.”

Mr Plunkett said the project was a “joint agreement” with Yawuru people.

“We’ve had a good relationship with the Yawuru people because it’s on land where we’ve had to come to a mutual agreement to go ahead,” he said.

“It’s basically a joint agreement and all working together going forward.”

Yawuru traditional owner Neil McKenzie said the airstrip was good for tourism and supporting local communities.

“It’s a greater access to the country … to our family it will give us a greater chance of gaining some sort of benefits in regards to work,” he said.

“We have great expectations for it at the moment and the future for us is huge.”

Mr Plunkett said the key to attracting tourists was by providing a “world-class” product.

“Tourism is a world market and we’re competing on a world stage … we can’t compete on price; we can only compete on product,” he said.

“We are never going to be a Bali … the Kimberley can offer experience-based tourism that’s a world-class product and that’s something we can compete with; it’s not price driven, it’s not something Bali can offer, it’s only something we can offer and that makes us very competitive.

“If you can get here economically, then people in the Kimberley can charge fair prices for unique experiences and then we’ve got a world-class product.”

Broome Visitor Centre general manager Nick Linton said the development would signal huge tourism benefits and allow greater visitation to the region.

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