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A shortage of seasonal accommodation for workers and tourists has plagued Esperance businesses since the beginning of the pandemic, and the Shire of Esperance along with the Goldfields Esperance Development Commission (GEDC) are determined to identify potential solutions.

Council supported a proposal to collaboratively fund a study on affordable worker and tourism accommodation options in Esperance at the 23 November Ordinary Council Meeting.

The intention of the study is to identify all current tourism and worker accommodation options, undertake a demand analysis for low cost worker accommodation, identify landholdings suitable for accommodation development, outline pathways to meet identified demands and attract investment, and deliver an analysis of the current situation, gaps and options along with a high level feasibility analysis of preferred options to meet identified gaps.

The ongoing use of the Blue Waters Lodge as short term accommodation for workers highlights the need for a long term solution. The Shire repurposed Blue Waters Lodge in December 2020 to support local businesses and the facility has been well tenanted since, despite originally being slated to close in June 2021. The demand for housing has remained strong and Blue Waters Lodge is projected to be in use well into 2022.

It is expected the study will fulfil industry supported actions of the Esperance Tourism Development initiative and the Esperance Tourism Strategy, provide the specific data on current industry gaps necessary to attract investment in tourism accommodation, and reveal the most practical solutions available to meet both current and future needs.

A consultant will have be engaged for this study by the end of January 2022, with an audit of current tourism and worker accommodation options to be delivered in March, and the final study to be handed over in May.