Development key to tourism

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

Albany will not reach its full potential as a tourist destination until the completion of the Middleton Beach development, according to Colin Barnett.

Speaking to the Albany Advertiser during his campaign stopover in the port City, the Premier said Albany was currently unable to cater for large travel groups visiting from Asia, in particular China.

Mr Barnett said Chinese tourists tended to be wealthy and were high-spenders, but typically wanted five-star hotel services.

“They want a bit of adventure and Albany has so much to offer,” he said.

“But they also want to travel in family groups and stay in high-quality accommodation and they want to stay as a group, not be spread across different venues.”

Mr Barnett said to maximise the potential of the Asian tourism market the city needed to be able to cater for groups — a party travelling of 30 to 50 people — and the proposed development at Middleton Beach had the capacity to meet that demand.

“I know there are a lot of smaller places ... but it doesn’t cater for 40 or 50 people arriving at once, on one tour,” he said.

Mr Barnett speculated the Middleton Beach development — given final approval last month with initial site works to start soon — would include a large hotel, residential apartments and retail and food outlets.

In response to the Albany mayor’s call for a commitment to fund a seawall at Middleton Beach in order to future-proof any development from the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, Mr Barnett said the Liberal party would be “happy to help out”.

Mr Barnett who was Premier when the Government purchased the Middleton Beach site for $7 million in 2014, said the land would be available at an “attractive price” and that would bring developers.

“Our role is to bring more visitors here,” he said.

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