Quokka selfie craze boosts Rotto visitor numbers to record

Social media star Natasha Oakley and Gilles Souteyrand pose with a quokka

Rottnest Island recorded a record number of visitors last financial year, boosted by booking changes and viral media publicity surrounding the “quokka selfie”.

More than 610,000 people visited the island in 2015-16, up almost 90,000, or 17 per cent, on the year before, the Rottnest Island Authority’s annual report reveals.
RIA chairman John Driscoll said the “outstanding achievement” was the result of a focus on destination marketing from the RIA’s own sales team and its major commercial partners, which include ferry and accommodation operators.
Mr Driscoll said changes made to long-entrenched booking methods had been taken up by holidaymakers, including allowing bookings up to 18 months in advance, making changes to minimum-stay requirements, and allowing longer-term stays in non-peak periods.
“We are seeing more people book online and make last minute bookings for weekend getaways, which represents a change in the Rottnest peak period holiday culture,” Mr Driscoll said.
The pick-up in visitor numbers helped the RIA turn around its financial performance last year, contributing $1.7 million more revenue than was budgeted.
The RIA recorded a $2.42 million profit, compared to a $1.18 million loss a year earlier — albeit that result was achieved after $9 million of State Government subsidies and grants.
More than 350 media stories featuring “quokka selfies” were published last year, with a media value of $5.6 million and potential audience of hundreds of millions.
“Celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Martin Clunes have added their famous faces to the phenomenon, while hundreds of daily tweets continue to spread quokka mania around the world,” the annual report says.

Quokka selfie craze boosts Rotto visitor numbers to record - Gareth Parker, The West Australian, 12 October 2016