Business as usual, with a slight COVID twist.

Western Australia’s south-west is expecting an influx of visitors for the coming long weekend despite another blow to its tourism industry.

Ex-Tropical Cyclone Mangga came just one week after border restrictions eased, allowing travel through to the region for the first time in more than a month. 

Although locals say the weather may have prevented some visitors to the region last weekend, it’s not expected to have any lasting detriment as the region aims to re-build visitor numbers.

The City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley says while cold weather may deter some people from coming to the region, a winter getaway in the south-west has its own charms. 

“We are still expecting many visitors to the south-west over the long weekend and we certainly welcome them,” he says.

Henley says the wild weather was responsible for fallen trees and damage to some coastal structures, none of which will heavily impact tourism for the WA Day long weekend. 

“Many houses lost fences and several roofs were dislodged, the most significant damage was associated with beach erosion,” he says.

“Local businesses were also impacted due to the loss of power and Telstra connectivity, especially in the Dunsborough region.”  

Operations manager at the Busselton Jetty Amy Gornall says the popular tourist attraction sustained minor damage to both the underwater observatory and interpretive centre.

“Certainly nothing drastic, however it could affect our tours of the underwater observatory for the upcoming long weekend,” she says.

The beloved Busselton Jetty train will be running for the long weekend despite strong winds ceasing its operation for the past five days.  

Gornall says taking a seaside stroll might be out of the question as severe erosion caused local beaches to be almost entirely covered by sea grass.

Marketing and communications manager at the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, Sophie Mathewson, says Margaret River was also impacted by the weather conditions.

“[The town] lost power on Monday so cafés, restaurants, the visitor centre and most of our attractions were closed.”

She says despite the severe weather conditions, the region is preparing for a busy long weekend.

“Many accommodation providers and local restaurants are already booked out.”

Mathewson says eateries and attractions such as the Cape to Cape walk, lighthouse and cave tours, and the high ropes course will still be open for the long weekend. 

Owner of The Equinox Restaurant and Bar in Busselton Peter Gordon says although the business lost power, no damage was sustained.

He says one of the biggest problems tourists will face over the long weekend, is that there might not be enough room for everyone to dine in.

The City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley says booking ahead is recommended for anyone planning a trip down south given the fact COVID-19 gathering restrictions are still in place.