The upcoming tourist season in Exmouth is set to push the town to its limits as people desperately hunt for accommodation.
- Exmouth has a zero per cent rental vacancy rate
- Shire plans to turn away visitors who have no accommodation booked during the tourist season
- Estate agents want the State Government to fast track land release for housing
Georgia Blake grew up in Exmouth but has been living in Perth.
She secured a job back in Exmouth but her move hit a roadblock when she realised places to live were few and far between.
“It’s so hard to find anywhere to rent,” she said.
“On our local Facebook page for the town, there’s just queues and queues and queues of people lining up to try and get a room.”
The 23-year-old said she was one of many people who were unsure if they could take their job without securing accommodation.
“The crazy thing is you can still get a job,” she said.
Local population booms
Shire President Matthew Niikula said the town had experienced a massive population boom due to the coronavirus border closures, as people returned from overseas or chose to holiday and work in regional WA.
He said the “housing crisis” was not unique to Exmouth, but the town was in a particularly difficult position because of an influx of tourists without the infrastructure to support them.
“It’s not just an Exmouth problem, everyone has to understand, it’s a statewide and nationwide problem at the moment,” he said.
Exmouth Ray White real estate principal Mark Lucas agreed.
“We’ve literally had an overnight sudden population growth,” Mr Lucas said.
“For the time of year there’s a higher demand than normal and demand is outstripping supply.
“We’re currently running on a zero per cent vacancy rate.”
He said an increase in house sales was one of the reasons behind the rental shortage.
“The good news is a lot of locals have actually bought into the market which is great news but also then potentially it’s displacing a few people,” he said.
Mr Lucas said usually when the tourism season dried up there were vacancies but this year looked different.
“The tourism season sort of continued on for quite a long period, so we had quite a busy December and January which we don’t normally have.
“So, the work was still here for people.”
He said with state borders closed people had limited holiday destinations to chose from.
Peak tourism season ahead
With housing already tough to obtain, Exmouth is about to move into its peak tourist season.
Cr Niikula said the town would just have to see how things went.
“We need a lot of part-time seasonal workers and casual workers and being able to find accommodation for them is extremely difficult at the moment,” he said.
“The town’s totally full.
“There’s no quick fix for something that has come about really fast through a left field situation.”
Cr Niikula said the shire would look at cracking down on illegal camping.
Real estate agents call for land release
Mr Lucas said the State Government could help the situation by fast tracking the release of land.
“We need land released and that needs to be a priority,” he said.
“There’s no residential land available in town.”
Last year, the State Government announced the Regional Last Booster package which aimed to make land more affordable.
In the Gascoyne region lot prices were reduced in Carnarvon and Denham.