Updates on Restrictions for Tourism Businesses

As Phase 2 began on Monday, the State Government has released its formal Closure and Restrictions (Limit the Spread) Directions (No 3) which identifies permitted and restricted activities. The Directions can be seen here. You should review the Directions and how they apply to your individual business.
1. Permitted Tourism Services exempt from Gathering Limits and Safety Plans Under Section 12 of the Directions, many tourism services are exempt from the limits on gatherings. Neither the 20 person nor 4 square metres limit applies on these exempt services. A COVID Safety Plan is not required for these exempt services. Tourism services which are exempt include:
  • Accommodation services (including a hotel, motel or other accommodation facility) are exempt under section 12(0).
  • Airports are exempt under section 12(c).
  • Food Markets, Supermarkets & Grocery stores are exempt under section 12(l).
  • Motor Vehicles are exempt under section 12(u).
  • Public Transport including Charter Vehicles and similar services are exempt under section 12(d). This means neither the 20 person nor 4 square metres limit applies.
2. Special Cases
  • Takeaway food and delivery remain a permitted service. A COVID Safety Plan is not required for takeaway food services unless it is from a pub, bar or club with a liquor licence.
  • Swimming Pools are now permitted but with the 20 patron and 4sqm limits per pool. Communal shower and change room facilities remain closed, except for the toilets. A COVID Safety Plan is not required.
  • Non-contact sporting activity is permitted, indoors or outdoors, provided equipment is cleaned between uses and there are no more than 20 participants. A COVID Safety Plan is not required.
  • Indoor gym, health club or fitness centre where there is: no bodily contact, no use of shared equipment and no use of fixed equipment. Communal shower and change room facilities remain closed, except for the toilets. A COVID Safety Plan is required.

3. Meal Services Re-Opening with Limits and Safety Plans Sit-down meal service is now permitted in certain places with limits. The limits are 20 patrons (not including staff) and at least 4 square meters per patron. Alcohol is limited to consumption with a meal on licenced premises and COVID Safety Plans are required. Food Courts are still prohibited. The places now permitted to provide a meal with limits and a safety plan include:

  • a licenced pub, bar or club.
  • a licenced or unlicensed hotel.
  • a restaurant or cafe.
4. Tourism Services Still Prohibited Several tourism attractions, facilities and ancillary services remain completely prohibited. These are:
  • Amusement park or arcade.
  • Casino or entertainment venue.
  • Gallery, museum or historical sites.
  • Beauty parlour, spa or massage parlour and beauty therapy services.

An Australian first: two different species of Australian pearls successful spawned by third-generation Australian pearl farming operation, Pearls of Australia.

Innovation during a time of COVID-19, pivoting the business’ retail and tourism arm to a hands-on farming initiative, to ensure the long-term livelihood of Australian-grown pearls.

  • An Australian first: simultaneous spawning of two types of pearl oysters by one company
  • Pivoting business model: COVID-19 challenge see the redeployment of staff from the operation’s tourism arm and retail, to hands-on pearl farming
  • Good news: the success of this breeding program helps ensure the long term future for Australian-farmed pearls

 Pearls of Australia, a third-generation family business, has successfully spawned two species of pearl oysters across its hatcheries at the same time. These new spawnings are a significant achievement, particularly during COVID-19 with its impacts being felt both domestically and around the world. The company’s tourism and retail employees were given a hands-on role, to concentrate efforts during this down-time on spawning pearl oysters, in an initiative to boost the cultivation of authentic Australian pearls and ensure the industry’s livelihood in the years to come.

The spawnings have occurred between Pearls of Australia’s two pearl farm operations which produce two different pearl oyster species: the Broken Bay Pearl Farm on the NSW Central Coast producing the Pinctada fucata  ‘Akoya’ pearl, and the Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in Broom in WA producing the famous giant Pinctada maxima  ‘Australian South Sea’ pearl.

The ability to continue with a pearl shell breeding program has been vital to the long-term success of the business. It also represents a first for Australian pearling, as the joint venture between the two pearl farms cultivates the two species of native pearl shell at the same time.

Representing over 70 years of pearling, Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm in WA is the oldest Australian-owned pearl farm and their hatchery operation is essential in its efforts to recover the industry from a disease that devastated the industry in 2007 and its ongoing productivity issues. While Broken Bay Pearl Farm – NSW’s only cultured pearl farm – represents the development of an entirely new industry for the state, opening in 2003.

Despite all the challenges of pearl farming, nothing could have prepared the company for the current crisis.

“We have lost over 90% of our revenue in the last few months due to this pandemic,” James Brown, Pearls of Australia’s Managing Director, and third-generation pearl farmer states. “By continuing this breeding program, we are demonstrating confidence in the longevity of our industry, as the results of these pearls won’t really show commercial value for another 5- 10 years’ time.”

“Timing is everything when it comes to spawning oysters; similar to coral – the moon and the seasons must align, and February and March full moons are the optimum times of the year. The fact that the two different pearl oyster species on either side of the country managed to spawn at the same time is a truly exciting and magical event.”

It takes up to 6 years from spawning tiny little oyster larvae in specialised hatcheries to finally harvesting a pearl. The oysters are generally around 2 to 3 years of age before they are able to be ‘seeded’ to start the pearl culturing process, and then it takes another 18 months to two years before the pearls are fully grown and ready for harvesting.  From there, it can be another whole year for the pearls to be sorted, graded, and set into jewellery designs ready for sale.

“This activity has enabled us to redeploy staff from other parts of the business, such as retail and tourism that have been hard hit by the pandemic, as we keep positively looking towards the future,” said Mr Brown.

He continued, “it highlights how huge the risk is for our industry. If we had not undertaken the spawnings because of COVID-19, no matter what the outcome, we wouldn’t have a pool of shell to seed in 2023 and no pearls to harvest in 2025.”

“The usual risk to hatchery operations at this time of year is cyclones, but this year it was the Coronavirus. Hatcheries cost thousands of dollars to run and facing no income for 2020 we had to make the decision if we were going to cease operation, or continue to produce millions of babies.” said Mr Brown.

“The COVID-19 crisis threatens the pearling industry, but Pearls of Australia chose to persevere with the important spawning process partly because of the previous crisis that crippled the Australian pearling industry in 2007. It was a biosecurity crisis just like this, only affecting our pearl oysters not people, and one our industry has never really recovered from.”

The spawning undertaken in Cygnet Bay Pearl Farm’s hatchery is part of an ongoing long-term Cooperative Research Centre project supporting family line breeding. The NSW hatchery program uses more traditional techniques involving mass spawning rather than targeting select families. This is partly due to strict biosecurity regulations around moving oysters between waterways in NSW.

“Both methods yield millions of baby pearl shell. Three years later we hope to have a few thousand of these shell ready to seed for pearls. After two more years of hard work we hopefully will have a handful of the world’s highest quality gems in our hands, ” said James Brown.

-Ends –



  • Pearls of Australia originated at Cygnet Bay, north of Broome, cultivating ‘Australian South Sea’ pearls. They have since expanded to the NSW Central Coast, cultivating the Australian ‘Akoya’ pearl at their Broken Bay Pearl Farm – an north of Sydney.
  • It is committed to investment in authenticity research, to facilitate the industry about pearl quality based on source of origin, species and purity (treatment).
  • Pearls of Australia guarantees seven pearl virtues with its pearls: the traditional five – size, shape, colour, surface, lustre – with two new additional virtues – provenance and purity.

Pearls of Australia is a third-generation family business, currently headed up by pearl farmer and marine biologist, James Brown.

James lives and breathes the Australian pearl industry, though realises there is a large gap in education relevant to the traditional wholesale pearl market; consumers are commonly provided with misleading information about the origins of their pearls including the important virtues of quality, provenance and purity in pearl cultivation. He realised that consumers want to know where their pearls come from and become informed buyers of Mother Nature’s handiwork, rather than anything artificial that may have occurred elsewhere after harvesting.

For these reasons, in 2009, James opened the gates to the family’s remote pearl farm at Cygnet Bay, two hours north of Broome on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula. For the first time in Australian history, the general public was able to take part in an authentic pearling experience, gaining access to pearls direct from the waters where they were cultivated. Due to the success of this venture, in December 2017, James bought into the Broken Bay Pearl farm on the NSW Central Coast, in order to bring their innovative approach to Australia’s ‘newest’ pearling region.

By working directly with the pearl farmers, Pearls of Australia is able to offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in a working pearl farm, to personally handle the pearls and to see, first-hand, how pearl quality is judged, as well as being able to purchase certified premium pearls from the farm.

For more on Pearls of Australia: www.pearlsofaustralia.com.au



To arrange an interview with James Brown, CEO of Pearls of Australia, further information or images:

Award-winning Kimberley tourism campaign returns

An award-winning tourism campaign featuring the charming adventures of a retired couple travelling the Kimberley Region of Western Australia is back.

The original Magic Kimberley campaign produced by Australia’s North West in 2019 was awarded the gold medal for Destination Marketing at the WA Tourism Awards and is in the running for the national awards to be presented next month.

Magic Kimberley – The Sequel launched today with a five-minute online video featuring much-loved characters Denise and Michael returning to the region for a new adventure on the Gibb River Road.

The Kimberley is renowned for its epic, ancient landscapes and Aboriginal history and culture, and includes destinations such as the Gibb River Road, Fitzroy River, Bungle Bungle Range, El Questro Station, Lake Argyle and the Mitchell Plateau.

Australia’s North West (ANW) CEO, Natasha Mahar, said the Magic Kimberley campaign had struck a chord with holidaymakers with its combination of authenticity and humour set against the unique Kimberley backdrop, and so bringing Denise and Michael back for a
follow-up campaign was an easy decision.

“People really loved Michael and Denise and how relatable they were as a typical ‘grey nomad’ couple and so the campaign proved highly successful, with the win at the WA Tourism Awards reflecting this,” Ms Mahar said.

“We’re operating in a difficult time for tourism in Australia with a range of factors impacting our industry, and so it’s really important we encourage people to be holidaying at home and supporting our many great tourism business operators.

“This campaign aims to encourage travellers, and particularly the 55-plus self-drive market, to make their dream a reality by experiencing the Kimberley’s incredible gorges, waterfalls, rivers and waterholes, Aboriginal culture and outback station life for themselves.

“We’re also really proud that both campaigns were produced on a minimal budget using local talent, including Kununurra residents Judy and Steve Farquhar who play Denise and Michael, and award-winning Broome film and production company Feral Films.”

Magic Kimberley – The Sequel will be rolled out online and on social media from Tuesday 18 February, supported by a range of material including advertising, itineraries, blogs and a cooperative partnership with travel wholesaler Broome, Kimberley & Beyond that will provide special offers for consumers and additional marketing support. The campaign can be viewed online here – https://www.australiasnorthwest.com/magic-kimberley




Media Contact:
Natasha Mahar
Chief Executive Officer
Australia’s North West Tourism
P: 08 9193 6660
M: 0455 333 877
E: ceo@australiasnorthwest.com

Shane Jacobson returns for new Broome tourism campaign

A new tongue-in-cheek tourism campaign showcasing Broome and the Dampier Peninsula in Australia’s North West and featuring popular Australian actor Shane Jacobson has launched.

The five-episode video series features Jacobson’s trademark humour set amongst breathtaking locations including the Horizontal Waterfalls, Cape Leveque, Waterfall Reef and Shell Island at Cygnet Bay, and Cable Beach, and includes guest appearances by Traditional Owners and tour operators from the region.

The campaign was produced by Australia’s North West Tourism and follows the first successful ‘Broome Time’ campaign from 2019 that was viewed more than 3 million times.

The premise behind the new videos is that Jacobson is back to enjoy more ‘Broome Time’ until his shoes are washed out to sea by the incoming tide on Cable Beach. He then embarks on a journey of discovery, and self-discovery, through Broome and the Dampier Peninsula in search of his lost shoes.

The digital campaign launched on Monday 27 January with episode one, and the following four episodes will be released on social media and online across the next two weeks.

Jacobson said he was excited to have the opportunity to work in Broome again and to explore the Dampier Peninsula as part of the campaign.

“The only people who ask ‘why do people keep coming back to Broome?’ are people who haven’t been to Broome yet,” he said.

“The one thing I’ve discovered about the Dampier Peninsula is that you discover 10 new amazing things every time you go that you didn’t know were there the last time you went.”

Australia’s North West Tourism CEO, Natasha Mahar, said the campaign was targeting Perth and East Coast audiences at a time when Australians were being encouraged to holiday domestically as part of Tourism Australia’s #HolidayHereThisYear campaign in the wake of the bushfire crisis.

“Our aim was to create an entertaining, authentic and inspiring campaign that will get people talking, and Shane Jacobson’s a popular, down-to-earth celebrity figure in Australia so we’re excited to work with him for the second time,” Ms Mahar said.

“The campaign is actually based on real-life events – after filming wrapped on the first campaign in 2018, Shane really did lose his shoes and there was an actual ‘Great Shoe Search’ in and around Broome to find them!

“In producing the new video series we also worked closely with tourism operators and Traditional Owners on the Dampier Peninsula to highlight the amazing tourism experiences they have to offer travellers and holidaymakers.

“In 2020 there will be seasonal direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane into Broome, as well as year-round flights from Darwin and Perth, so it’s important that we capitalise on this increasing accessibility of Broome as a tourism destination.

“We’ve also partnered with Qantas Hotels for this campaign which significantly increases our reach through Qantas’ own marketing channels, and adds incentives for travellers to visit Broome such as doubling Qantas points for accommodation bookings.”

The video campaign can be viewed at https://www.australiasnorthwest.com/back-on-broome-time


Media Contact:
Natasha Mahar
Chief Executive Officer
Australia’s North West Tourism
M: 0455 333 877
P: 08 9193 6660
E: ceo@australiasnorthwest.com