Tourists urged to come on down

Haidee Vandenberghe with AAPCountryman
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The flames might have been doused, but the effects of last week's Margaret River blaze are set to smoulder on amid fears the region's tourism industry will be hard hit.

Australian Hotels Association chief executive Bradley Woods has urged that the region's image as a fine wine producer be protected. He said it was still important for the Government and Tourism WA to start thinking now about how to market the region after the bushfires were mopped up.

"The damage to the region will have to be addressed because there are a lot of small businesses that rely on tourism," Mr Woods said.

"It's already been a tough year for Margaret River with the decline in leisure tourism and now these bushfires come at a time when tourism is usually peaking."

Mr Woods said a quick and active marketing campaign was needed to remind people that the Margaret River region was still a tourist destination.

"Only an isolated area has been damaged by the bushfires but most of the area remains untouched, so there are still boutique vineyards and other tourist activities available," he said.

It's a message South West Development Commission executive officer Don Punch hopes will get through to potential tourists.

"I do know that the people in Margaret River are really hoping that people won't to stay away," he said.

"There are many wineries that are fully operational. "If people really want to help Margaret River out, the best way they can support the town is to go down and visit and show faith in the town."

Margaret River-based Stella Bella Wines sales and marketing manager Hal Bibby said it would be a shame if tourists stayed away because of the belief the area was completely burnt out.

"It's a big region - the wine producing region is about 2500 square kilometres and there was about 3000 hectares that was burnt," he said.

"I have a holiday booked in Prevelly with some overseas visitors in the next three or four weeks and we're going to go because we want to support the local community."

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