Margaret River named Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2019

The world’s best-known travel guide has named Margaret River its number one destination to visit in Asia Pacific this year.

Acknowledgement by Lonely Planet elevates the Western Australian wine region, known for its spectacular natural country and coastal scenery, to new recognition on the global tourism stage.

The annual vote for the guide’s prestigious ‘Best in Asia-Pacific’ list placed Southern WA above Singapore, Fiji and Cambodia as the most desirable destination in 2019.

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”15046″ align=”left”]The Margaret River and Southern WA region was singled out by the guide’s team of independent travel experts for its coastal attractions, rolling countryside, forests, wineries, breweries and restaurants. Food festivals such as the Western Australia Gourmet Escape, Truffle Kerfuffle and Taste Great Southern were named among the region’s most appealing visitor attractions.

“Take one look at Meelup Beach and you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life: the West Australian bush parts to reveal ocean the hue of a Bombay Sapphire bottle, which is typical of the coastline stretching from Margaret River to the state’s south,” Lonely Planet said of the region.

“Beyond the sand, some of the country’s slickest wineries, breweries and restaurants lie between tracts of tall-tree forest and kangaroo-dotted farmland.”

It is the first time an Australian destination has taken out the top spot in the 15-year history of the travel guide’s ‘Best In’ list.

The news is a boost to a region which has grappled with a stagnant tourism market in recent years and a burgeoning unregulated short-stay industry which established accommodation providers say threatens their livelihoods. The WA government is in midst of a parliamentary enquiry into the sector, with legislation expected later this year.

Lonely Planet said Margaret River, often overshadowed by high-profile wine regions the Hunter Valley in NSW and South Australia’s Barossa, deserved greater recognition.

Author Fleur Bainger said: “This stunning region … is under-appreciated and deserves national and global attention.

“I think travellers love getting off the beaten track and WA’s lack of mass tourism means it has a sense of beauty and clarity that you don’t get in well-known hotspots.”

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said he was “excited” by the announcement and believed it would boost WA’s profile internationally.

“It’s a hotspot for once-in-a-lifetime experiences – and it’s wonderful that a travel organisation as reputable as Lonely Planet agrees with these sentiments,” he said.

“This accolade will give the region even more exposure in our key international markets, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.”

In an interview with The West Australian, Augusta-Margaret River Shire president Pamela Townshend said the international recognition was “amazing”.

“Beauty in its most untouched form – that’s the reason why it is so extraordinary here,” she said. “A lot of West Australians have a deep connection with this region and we welcome visitors, knowing that those who come here for our natural environment will respect this beautiful place and help us preserve it.”

Lonely Planet’s top ten list of best in Asia Pacific region is:

  1. Margaret River & Southern WA, Australia
  2. Shikoku, Japan
  3. Bay of Islands & Northland, New Zealand
  4. Singapore
  5. The Cook Islands
  6. Central Vietnam
  7. Fiji
  8. Palawan, Philippines
  9. Beijing, China
  10. Cambodia

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