Bunbury is not what it used to be and it is time to let Perth and Eastern States tourists know that.

That is the opinion of Minister for Tourism Paul Papalia who visited Bunbury and the South West last week to meet with local tourism operators.

Tourism in the South West region is booming, and despite overnight visitors to Bunbury growing by 18.5 per cent between March 2018 and March this year, Mr Papalia said Bunbury was yet to change a perception that it is merely a stopover point to get to bigger and better things.

Meeting with local tourism operators and City of Bunbury representatives last week, Mr Papalia said people in Perth did not know what Bunbury had to offer.

“A big thing is people in Perth don’t know what Bunbury is now, there may be a perception that we need to change,” Mr Papalia said.

“I grew up in Burekup and came to high school here and it’s not what it used to be, you’re struck by that when you come here but a lot of people in Perth probably aren’t coming because they’re not aware.”

A team of tourist operators will design an action plan to promote Bunbury as a destination.

“Bunbury is a really attractive destination now… people are driving past without even being aware there’s this beautiful foreshore, there’s all these great cafes and restaurants and a great calendar of events,” Mr Papalia said.

“Tourism operators will come up with an immediate action plan for Bunbury I think mostly focused on raising awareness on what a great place it is.”

He said they would work with the tourism industry in Bunbury to create packaged deals as part of the marketing strategy.

Since he came into office nearly three years ago Mr Papalia has grown the State’s tourism identity under a two year action plan, launched in March last year.

The plan has seen the highest number of tourists visiting in the State’s history.