Qantas stuffs up great `WA for free’ promotion

For passengers flying from London to Perth, Western Australia, Qantas is giving away free flights within Western Australia for those who book accommodation in rural WA.

To help holidaymakers experience more Australia for less, Qantas Holidays has introduced their Fly Free offer. All you do is book return flights with Qantas from London to Perth and a five-night stay at one of the selected properties in Broome or, supposedly, Exmouth and flights from Perth are free.

To give you an example of what this means, flying from Perth to Broome is about equal to flying from London to Istanbul, so the flights being offered for free are generous.

Western Australia is the largest state in the Australia, home to Australia’s sunniest capital, Perth and the largest collection of wildflowers on earth. Here visitors can camel ride along Cable Beach in Broome, swim with whale sharks near Exmouth and in Margaret River sup on delicious wines from vineyards running down to the beach – except that the good folks at Qantas are not actually offering you Margaret River accommodation.

Packages include: Return flights in Economy with Qantas from London Heathrow to Perth, Return flights from Perth to Broome, 5 nights at Mercure Broome. I’ve stayed at the Mercure and it is one of the nicer hotels in Broome. It is not on Cable Beach but it is an easy walk to the town centre.

Return flights in Economy with Qantas from London Heathrow to Perth, return flights from Perth to Exmouth, 5 nights at Monkey Mia Resort. This package is very confusing because the Monkey Mia Resort is nowhere near Exmouth; it is in Shark Bay, many hundreds of kilometres by road from Exmouth. It’s a bit like expecting to stay in Cornwall and finding that your accommodation has actually been booked in Blackpool. Double check arrangements before you book this package.

The third package is said to be Perth and Margaret River and the package doesn’t include a flight, because there are no commercial flights to Margaret River, but it does include 5 days car hire. This package consists of 5 days car hire, 2 nights at Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, and 3 nights at Karri Valley Resort, Pemberton. The Esplanade Hotel is a very good hotel in a great location, and Fremantle is a great place to visit as it is WA’s main port and only 30 minutes from Perth. The Karri Valley resort is indeed at Pemberton, which is definitely not in the Margaret River region. Yes, Karri Valley Resort is a good resort, and Pemberton is an interesting timber town that is set amid the giant karri trees, but it isn’t Margaret River and it shouldn’t be promoted as Margaret River.

With the exception of Broome it appears to me that these packages have been put together by someone with absolutely no knowledge of Western Australia. They have probably looked at a map and thought that Exmouth doesn’t look all that far from Monkey Mia and Pemberton doesn’t look too far from Margaret River. Maps of WA are very deceiving because of the huge size of the state, which is roughly the size of India, and towns that look to be next to each other on a map are in reality hundreds of kilometres apart.

For instance, one of the descriptions reads: “Broome highlights include taking a camel ride on Cable Beach and exploring the beehive shaped Bungle Bungles”. A trip from Broome to the Bungle Bungles is a return journey of about 2,000 kilometres, some of which is over very rough terrain that is impassable in the wet; you can’t just go there for lunch, have a quick squiz and be back in Broome for the sunset camel ride.

Don’t get me wrong;, these packages are a great idea, and I’m delighted that Qantas wants to promote Western Australia, but it would be good if the people who are promoting these products actually knew what they were doing; because with these packages, as they are described, will not give you that which is promised.

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