WA World Heritage coast a boon for cruise ship tourism

Tom ZaunmayrBroome Advertiser
The west coast of DIrk Hartog Island, Shark Bay.
Camera IconThe west coast of DIrk Hartog Island, Shark Bay. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

Creation of a World Heritage coast stretching from Shark Bay through to the Kimberley would present an enormous opportunity for cruise ship tourism, according to a leading West Australian tourism academic.

The idea was floated by former WA Premier Colin Barnett during the 2017 election campaign to see Murujuga National Park and stretches of the Kimberley coast join Shark Bay, Ningaloo and Cape Range on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Fast-forward 18 months and a World Heritage-listing nomination process has been initiated for Murujuga, a process which could take up to six years. The State Government is supportive.

Edith Cowan University School of Business and Law tourism founding professor Ross Dowling said expedition cruise ships would jump at the opportunity to visit a World Heritage coastline.

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“The moment the Burrup becomes a World Heritage region you will automatically have terrestrial tourists come, but I also know from the big cruise corporations they are looking for new sites on the west coast to visit,” he said.

“What cruise lines and the passengers are looking for is new and remote areas, places they have never been to.

“We just need to open this up, not to mass cruise tourism, but to small-scale, high-yield cruise expedition ships.”

VideoBurrup Peninsula is home to one of the largest ancient Aboriginal rock art collections in the world. The stories on the rocks depict the beginning of time: when the world was soft.

Mr Dowling said unlike large cruise liners, expedition ships required almost no infrastructure.

Labor Member for Mining and Pastoral Kyle McGinn said World Heritage sights attracted large tourism markets.

“What comes with that is jobs and a stimulation of the economy,” he said.

“Deepwater ports are expensive, so I definitely would be of the opinion that enable ships that have the ability of access would be of big benefit to the region.”

Mr McGinn said he would also like to see state shipping returned to the WA coast to assist passenger and cargo movements to and within the North West.

“I am a strong believer of returning state shipping so we can have ships running from Fremantle up north,” he said.

Despite the wealth of ancient rock art on the peninsula, some interest groups argue the proposed World Heritage bid is no sure thing after leaked papers showed the State Government was working to attract two more large-scale industrial plants to the Burrup.

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