Camping and walking fees could be introduced for the picturesque Cape to Cape experience in Southwest WA to help maintain the track.
WA Today reports a pre-feasibility study for eco-accommodation along stops on the seven-day walk – which stretches about 123km between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste – suggested upgrading the track and installing ablutions, cooking shelters and tent platforms at camp sites paid for with a new fee.
"Upon completion of upgrades to the track and the establishment of good camping facilities, it would be timely to introduce a fee for overnight walkers and commercial operators that can be re-invested in the track," the report said.
"This could be collected through the on track camping fees and a per capita fee for clients using either commercial shuttle services to access trail-heads or walking with commercial guiding companies."
The study ruled out introducing any new upmarket cabins or accommodation facilities on the track until tourism numbers recovered following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Analysis examining the return on investment for the construction of three $2 million facilities on the track, which could cater to 12 guests each paying $250 a night, found there would be a limited return on investment for any operator based on the 50 per cent average annual occupancy rate for the region.
Three new high-end private developments close to the track are currently being planned.
Gene Hardy, who has run guided hikes on the track for 11 years with his company Cape to Cape Explorer Tours, said he would be fine with a new fee.
"It’s more about having infrastructure to protect areas that need it and the more areas that can stay natural the better," he said.