Freo's View

IT HAS BEEN A VERY BIG YEAR FOR FREO’S FUTURE

 

I have been contemplating what the memorable moments in Fremantle were for me this year, so let’s make a start.

  • The Kings Square Redevelopment Project is no doubt the most significant one in decades for our city, so I walk by daily to have a look.
  • The Heart of Beacy project could positively change and modernise the suburb and provide much-needed urban infill.
  •  Andrew-Twiggy- Forrest showing faith in Freo’s future by investing in property here is significant.
  •  The Woolstores hotel development finally approved and two other hotels in Henderson Street as well.
  • If it is environmentally safe the South Fremantle solar farm will be a good development.
  • No more single-use plastic bags.
  • The tavern proposal by Sunset Events for J Shed was finally given the boot by the WAPC.
  • The removal of the stunning Felice Varini yellow art work is a major headache for the city and property owners in High Street.
  • Traffic calming in South Fremantle looks great and so does the Hilton Town centre.
  • Destination Marketing planning for Freo is under way, so let’s wait and see.
  • By-election for South Fremantle won by Andrew Sullivan-again.
  • The Long Table Dinner is huge, great and very Freo.
  •  Age Friendly City working group established.
  • Highrise proposal for Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle stopped.

It has been a big year for Fremantle and next year is going to be similar when many of the approved developments will start and the FOMO retail concept opens at Kings Square before Christmas 2019.

And at the risk of some people accusing me of sucking up, I want to express my thanks to Freo’s very diligent councillors. I do not always like their decisions, but they make them with care and after long deliberations, as I witnessed myself by going to about 80 per cent of council and council committee meetings this year, to see first hand how our grassroots democracy works.

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

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MAKE HOTELS MORE FAMILY FRIENDLY

Posted in accommodation, children, city of fremantle, family, hospitality, hotel, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on October 15, 2018

 

Bradley Woods, the CEO of the Australian Hotel Association has a whinge about Bed&Breakfasts and the unfairness of it all in the West Australian today.

There is no doubt that some regulation needs to be in place for B&Bs, which are already required to have a registration here in Fremantle, but B&Bs are here to stay no matter how much the AHA is against them.

The reality the AHA will have to deal with is that hotels are expensive for families and large groups, in comparison to B&Bs, so what is the AHA going to do about that?

Hotels are also not very family and children friendly, so when are we going to see secure playgrounds and play spaces in hotels? Maybe new hotels could even include community kitchens so that families don’t have to go and eat out three times a day, which is very costly and prohibitive for many. It is one of the reasons people book a B&B, where they can do most of the cooking in house, and the kids might even have a garden they can play in.

While serviced apartments, such as Quest in Pakenham Street at least have a kitchen where one can prepare a meal or two, they still lack facilities for children and families.

I hope some of the new planned hotels in Fremantle will make an effort to cater better for families, to combat the trend toward B&Bs and away from hotel accommodation.

 

Roel Loopers

THE GREATER FREMANTLE ACTION PLAN

 

chamber function

 

Future Freo chairman Adrian Fini launched the Greater Fremantle Action Plan by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce in the Australia II gallery of the Maritime Museum on Thursday evening, in front of Minister Simone McGurk, Mayor Brad Pettitt and several councillors and CoF staff, as well as representatives from Notre Dame University, Fremantle Port, Silverleaf Investments and business leaders.

The 28-page Action Plan is well worth reading and I assume the Chamber will put it on line, as it is too substantial to address every item in it here on the blog.

FCOC chair Ivan Dzeba said that Fremantle is already a great place but it can be better, while Adrian Fini said that we do need change and will fall apart if we don’t move forward.

We need to ask ourselves what is Fremantle’s strength and cultural identity, and we have great opportunities which need great leadership, but growth in technology will take shoppers away, but Fremantle has unique offerings that other shopping precincts do not have.

There is a deep journey ahead that demand teamwork with council, businesses and the community working together, Fini said.

The Greater Fremantle Action Plan records Freo’s strengths as having:

  • Dynamic economy particularly in transport and related industries, the arts and receational services, accommodation, food and health care
  • A unique profile consisting of heritage strength and character
  • Fremantle Port remains Fremantle’s most important industry
  • Fremantle has a unique combination of the knowledge economy and creative industries
  • Health services and related sectors continue to play an important role despite the downsizing of Fremantle Hospital
  • Fremantle has a global reputation as a tourist destination

 

So what are the plans for action?

 

Create the Conditions

  • Business attraction plan
  • Destination marketing campaign
  • Develop financial incentives
  • Policy and regulation review
  • Complete structure plan
  • Develop infrastructure to support a cultural plan

Connecting People, Places & Markets

  • Planning for affordable housing
  • Improvements to urban realm in commercial areas
  • Improvements to public transport
  • Sophisticated city centre parking plan
  • Connected cycle path network
  • Improvements to regional connections
  • Improvements to visitor booths and wayfinding
  • Improvements to pedestrian access

Promoting our Place

  • Broader and more unified approach to marketing
  • Develop relevant Fremantle ‘apps’
  • Unique brand development
  • Expand toursim accommodation
  • Explore new tourism opportunities
  • Grow conference/events industry

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

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MORE HOLIDAY SEARCHES FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, tourism, travel, Uncategorized by freoview on December 30, 2017

 

Travel and holiday search site wotif.com data for 2017 have revealed that Fremantle is not one of the top ten holiday destinations for Australians, but the good news is that interest in Fremantle has increased by 85% over the last twelve months.

The most popular WA summer destinations for Aussie travellers were Perth, Margaret River, Broome, Bunbury, Mandurah, Esperance, Busselton, Dunsborough, Albany and Geraldton.

WOTIF rates the top five movers and shakers for 2017 Bridgetown, Cervantes, Fremantle, Coral Bay, Carnarvon.

I am not sure how relevant these statistics are though as there are many other search engines for travel, hotels, holidays, accommodation, etc.

While there is ample B&B accommodation in Fremantle it lacks sufficient hotel rooms, and that could well have an impact on the above data, as overnight hotel stays are limited.

Plans for new hotels in Freo will no doubt make a big difference to help make our city a more attractive tourist destination.

Roel Loopers

 

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TOURISM SHOULD BE FREMANTLE PRIORITY

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on September 17, 2017

 

 

The rather optimistic prediction by Sirona Capital that the Kings Square Project innovative and exciting FOMO retail concept will double tourism in Fremantle made me think on how we can increase tourist numbers and offer a better tourism experience in the port city.

For reasons I cannot understand there is reluctance to sell the great brand of Fremantle in destination marketing, and our retail marketing is not anywhere good enough. Retail is hard to sell anyway, as Fremantle lacks variety in shopping.

There is lack of coordination between the major players, and I have the feeling there are a few egos in the way. The City’s marketing people don’t really believe BID is necessary and the Chamber of Commerce is also not a big fan of it, and the major players in town are often left out, so everyone does their own bit, instead of working together on major strategies.

There is an assumption of communication, simply because visitors to Fremantle can access the Fremantle Story on-line or go to different Facebook pages about festivals, etc.

Fact is though that there are many people who do not engage with social media and who can’t be bothered to do long searches to see what is available to them.

Why can’t a visitor to Fremantle, who is staying Tuesday and Wednesday night, find out where live music is on those nights, which pubs have got specials on, etc?

At the Roundhouse we are not supplied with information about events. Many of the volunteer guides don’t live in Fremantle, so they do not know what is going on. It should be a matter of routine that the City’s marketing department emails a list of events, etc. every Monday morning to the Maritime and Shipwreck museums, Fremantle Prison, the Roundhouse, etc. but that is not happening.

Every year we have to contact the City to beg for festival programs, flyers, even a small poster about the Winter, Beer, Chilli festivals, whatever, but it is not forthcoming.

The City of Fremantle does not see tourism as a priority and great opportunity to boost the retail and hospitality industries. If thousands more people come to Freo and stay longer they will shop, eat and drink and support our traders, but BID mainly does cutesy things for locals during school holidays and festivals, which already attract people, instead of being a conduit for all the major players, such as developers, Fishing Boat Harbour, museums, etc.etc. come together, and work on strategies for Freo’s tourism.

The majority of overseas visitors are looking for an indigenous experience, but can’t find it. There is an opportunity here for Fremantle, but we do tokenism better that high impact stuff. There is no big picture thinking on tourism.

We light up the Arthur Head cliff face at night, but close the Whalers Tunnel at 7 pm, so there is no direct access from High Street. Why?!

We should have substantial tourist promotion for Fremantle at the airport, in the Perth CBD, and in Kalgoorlie and Esperance for those who drive here, but we preach to the locals mainly.

The Roundhouse volunteers want to improve the displays, but the City is not pro-actively involved in supporting them, and appears quite happy to leave it to the mostly senior amateurs to sort something out, while they could do with good professional advise and financial support.

The City should lobby the Royal Australian Navy and ask them to reconsider putting the planned Sailor monument on the North Mole, and instead put it on Victoria Quay or in Pioneer Park, or even Kings Square, because tens of thousands of visitors to Fremantle will miss out on seeing it. The North Mole is too remote for people who don’t have a vehicle, and riding one’s bike there is a challenge with all the trucks in the area.

The City of Fremantle needs a think tank on tourism, something substantial and outcome based. We have plenty of talkfests and don’t even do those well, because they procrastinate into nothing.

Our traders deserve and demand support, and we need to have a more innovative approach on how we can sell brand Freo, because our promotion is stale, and Fremantle does not get much help from the Perth-centric state tourism promotions.

Many tourists to Fremantle comment on how different we are, and that Perth is just like other big cities, but we do not sell our heritage beauty well, or even our gorgeous High Street that ends up at Bathers Beach.

Fremantle needs creative people who are willing and able to think outside the box, and who don’t do same same every year, time and time again. Fremantle’s marketing is boring, uninspiring and not working!

Roel Loopers

VOTE ROEL FOR CITY WARD!

HOTELS NEED TO ADAPT TO TOURIST NEEDS

Posted in accommodation, city of fremantle, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on August 21, 2017

 

The $ 2 million emergency campaign announced by Tourism Minister Paul Papalia to get more people using Perth hotels is not dealing with the changing demands for tourist accommodation.

The minister wants us to invite friends and family over, but it is not just lower visitors’ numbers that are to blame for the many empty hotel rooms.

Hotel rooms are expensive and not very family friendly, hence the success of Bed&Breakfast accommodation and AirBB.

In Fremantle one can get a 2-3 bedroom house with garden for as low as $ 170 a night. For a family with children that is much better and cheaper than hotel rooms.

People can cook in a B&B and don’t need to go out and buy three meals a day, and the kids can play in the garden.

Many B&B also allow dogs and that is very popular.

What hotel operators need to do is change with the times and offer more serviced apartments, where people can cook their own meals, as the new Fremantle Quest Hotel has.

What is wrong with hotels having some floors with rooms and suites, and other floors with serviced apartments with cooking facilities?

Having a whinge is not the solution, but changing with modern tourist demands is.

Roel Loopers

 

FREMANTLE’S SOCIALIST DEVELOPMENT

Posted in city of fremantle, development, economy, lifestyle by freoview on March 14, 2017

 

The LIV Defence Housing residential development at Fremantle’s Queen Victoria and Quarry streets is well under way and will be a great addition to the east end of the CBD.

I find it rather cute that people on the right side of politics keep accusing Fremantle Council of being socialists when this council has done more in thirty years to attract very capitalist development to our city than previous councils.

While some of the new development is disappointing and mediocre it will do Fremantle’s economy and traders a lot of good in the near future to have three new hotels and very substantial residential and commercial development that will bring thousands more people living in the inner city and thousands more working in the CBD.

It will be fantastic for the hospitality and retail industries to have hundreds of tourists staying overnight in Fremantle and shop, dine and drink here, and having locals and students roaming the streets day and night will make it a safer and more lively place.

Roel Loopers

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NEW FREO BACKPACKERS

Posted in accommodation, backpackers, fremantle, tourism by freoview on February 28, 2016

backpackers

 

There is another backpackers hostel in Fremantle in the Orient Hotel on the corner of Henry and High streets. The Fremantle Beach Backpackers is only a five-minute-walk from gorgeous Bathers Beach, so a pretty good location.

This is the 7th backpackers in our city, if I haven’t overlooked one, so now it’s time to get a few more upmarket tourist accommodation venues as well. The 4 star Quest short-stay hotel in Pakenham Street is progressing well so will probably open later this year.

Roel Loopers

IT’S ALL GO FOR FREO!

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, tourism by freoview on February 3, 2016

There are those in our community who only see and predict doom and gloom for Fremantle but going out for a meal with my mate Bob last night I was delighted to see Freo is no longer just a weekend destination.

The South Beach Hotel bars, restaurant and alfresco were full, tables reserved and people clearly enjoying the $ 15 steak night, and the steaks were thick and big and not like the leather-like meat some other hotels offer on their specials night. It was also good to see it is becoming more of a family pub with kids still in school uniform joining parents for a meal.

Next door Missy Moos burger bar was also doing well and down the road the Run Amuk sausage bar was jam packed full with mainly young people.

The Local Hotel-former Seaview- was also doing very well but Bob and I wanted pizza so for us it was Ruocco’s. I have been dining at Ruocco’s for more than 25 years but last night’s pizzas were some of the best I have ever eaten there. Great chewy base, delicious seafood on one and the meaty Ruocco’s special is one of my favourites.

Traders tell me the Christmas New Year period has been very good with some hospitality venues having a 50% increase in turnover and being flat-out on week days like weekend trading. I know that we had higher visitors numbers at the Roundhouse with surprisingly many more people from the eastern states.

Fremantle is in a very important transition period and it is essential for Council to remain level-headed and not rush into things and refrain from approving inappropriate development. The protection of our city’s heritage areas is vital for our growing tourism industry and city’s unique character and should not be compromised.

Freo in ten years from now won’t be the Fremantle we know, but if Council, developers and the community collaborate and get it right we will have the beautiful old historic town and a thriving modern new cbd to the east of Kings Square that will attract more visitors and residents and will make our city prosper again like in the old gold boom times.

Roel Loopers

THE LAST DAY OF THE YEAR

Posted in city of fremantle, community, fremantle, local government by freoview on December 31, 2015

It is the last day of the year, one which I will spend as volunteer tourist guide at the Roundhouse and moving home yet again. It has been a roller coaster year of very deep and worrying lows but ending on a high for me personally so I suppose that makes it a good year.

It has been a roller coaster for Fremantle and Western Australia as well. It hasn’t been a good year for the Barnett government with the announcement of a huge budget deficit and the Supreme Court ruling that the EPA and the Minister’s approval for the Roe 8 highway was invalid.

The gap between Fremantle Council and the community has widened again with many believing our elected members no longer listen to us. The J Shed music venue was as controversial at the Esplanade skatepark but Council was unwilling to show solidarity with those in the community who fear that live music concerts at historic Arthur Head will substantially increase anti social behaviour in the area.

It has not been a great year for Freo with the economic recovery basically only being a building boom, but retail is still struggling. There are some positive signs though with the city being packed with people on Sunday and even yesterday on a Wednesday. Visitors’ numbers from the eastern states to Fremantle have also significantly improved.

The Kings Square project and major catalyst for Fremantle’s recovery is still in limbo and that is very worrying as major development in the east of town could well pull businesses and people away from city square and make the square even less attractive and lively.

The overdue upgrade of the High Street mall is in process and with the new Atwell Arcade building opening in the first quarter of the new year this could be the start of the revitalisation of that area.

It is a shame the start of the Hilton Hotel at Princess May Park has been delayed as new tourist accommodation is in my opinion essential for the economic recovery of Fremantle.

It will be good to have a new broom sweep through the City of Fremantle administration with the appointment of a new CEO, so we can only hope that the selection panel will look for more that just green credentials.

Fremantle Council need to do more and better to communicate with the community and should stop clever spin and instead be honest and transparent. Council also needs to go back to what Councils are elected to do and that is local government for local people. It is time to concentrate more on the daily grind maintenance and progress of our city and less trying to be a pseudo state government. We need hands-on governance and administration so that our city looks cared for and clean and tidy and safe. The Council election in May showed that most Freo people no longer care who is representing them with more that 70 per cent of voters not bothering to send in their ballot papers. That to me is a sure sign of a Council that no longer has the confidence and support of the community who are so disillusioned that they believe no one listens to them any way and that community consultation in Fremantle has just become tokenism of ticking a required box to satisfy the Minister for Local Government.

My wish for Freo for the New Year is more collaboration and respect and less the terribly negative us and them attitude where the Council and administration are seen as the enemy of the community. That is not a healthy relationship between the people and government. I sincerely hope the new Fremantle Society committee will not simply become another community group interested mainly in Council bashing and negativity but that they will make a positive difference and be part of the solutions and help Fremantle to modernise, revive and change.

Fremantle is blessed with many passionate, committed and creative people who have many ideas on how we can improve our city. It is essential that Council listens to them and not take them for granted. It is imperative that Council does not believe it has all the answers and solutions and that it can ignore community input. And it is essential to run a local government that deals with reality and the day to day needs of this community, a Council that stops looking for green credentials worldwide while neglecting the basics that local government are elected to look after.

There is huge scope for improvement at all levels in Fremantle, at Council, the administration and community groups, so I sincerely hope real genuine effort will be made by all to work together for the benefit of our very special and unique city that we all love.

HAVE A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

Roel Loopers

 

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