Dampier Peninsula visitor surge

Headshot of Jakeb Waddell
Jakeb WaddellBroome Advertiser
Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm on the Dampier Peninsula.
Camera IconCygnet Bay Pearl Farm on the Dampier Peninsula. Credit: Tourism WA

Resorts and camping grounds on the picturesque Dampier Peninsula have come under the microscope of the State Government in the wake of the sealing of the Broome to Cape Leveque Road.

In anticipation of a surge of travellers to the visitor hotspot, 200km from Broome, Tourism WA is leading the large-scale Dampier Peninsula Project to increase the number and quality of accommodation facilities at several remote indigenous communities.

The remaining 92km dirt section of the Broome-Cape Leveque Road is scheduled to be fully bituminised by November, 2020, providing tourists with easy access to untouched attractions and award-winning camping grounds.

It comes as the State Government prepares to dredge the Port of Broome, allowing for all-tide access for large cruise vessels and bringing more passengers to the Kimberley.

A major component of the peninsula project is a revamp of the Aboriginal-owned Kooljaman at Cape Leveque wilderness camp, which was highlighted as a priority to support the potential tourism growth.

A tender to identify redevelopment opportunities at the resort and assess its business model closed last Tuesday.

The peninsula project also includes concept studies and planning for a new campground or enhancements to existing spots across three communities, the development of two new tourism products in partnership with locals, and a feasibility study for a campground or caravan hub near Djarindjin.

The State Government will pump $1 million into the project, announced as part of the 2019/20 Budget.

Speaking at Budget estimates in Parliament last month, Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the sealing of the road would lead to a “substantial uplift” in opportunity for Aboriginal cultural tourism on country.

He said remote community leaders were in discussions with cruise companies about introducing an annual “access pass” to ensure Aboriginal people received a return from ownership of the land.

In a study conducted last year, Tourism WA estimated visitor numbers to the Dampier Peninsula would increase by 36 per cent by 2030, which would be about 51,000 tourists, compared to 38,000 people last year.

Australia’s North West Tourism chief executive Natasha Mahar said the State Government commitment was a potential big win for the development of more Aboriginal cultural experiences for “those that want to really share their knowledge, country and culture with visitors”.

“Consideration of tour group numbers, capacity and infrastructure should be given to suit the requirements of various Dampier Peninsula communities,” she said.

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said a practical system should be used to ensure the number of locals and tourists was maximised without undermining unique cultural and environmental values.

“Managed well, the sealing of the road can transform the economy of the peninsula and generate a range of low-impact tourism-related jobs opportunities and businesses,” he said.

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