A winter holiday on Rottnest Island will help a special group of Western Australian Olympians make it to Barcelona.
These Olympians will not be competing in the Games that begin next month. Their turn will come in August when they contest the Paralympics.
The Rottnest Island Authority and the Rottnest business community have combined to come up with a Rottnest Paralympics Passport package designed to provide financial assistance to the Western Australian athletes with disabilities who are destined for medals in Barcelona.
The initiative also is being sponsored by West Australian Newspapers, ABC Radio 6WF, NEW Channel 10 and Mercury Press.
Tourism Minister Pam Beggs and Sport and Recreation Minister Graham Edwards today applauded the move.
"Rottnest is such an integral part of the Western Australian way of life and the business community is to be congratulated on showing true Western Australian spirit in offering support for the Paralympians," they said.
The Rottnest Paralympics Passport includes two or three nights midweek accommodation at Rottnest between now and mid-September (excluding school holidays). The Rottnest Island Authority will contribute 15 per cent for each booking to the Paralympics Fund.
On presentation of the Paralympics Passport, Rottnest businesses will contribute 15 per cent of gross sales to the Fund.
This includes plane and ferry travel to the Island, and the purchase of goods at the restaurant, general store, bakery, hotel, garden golf, dive ski and surf shop and Red Rooster.
The Rottnest Lodge Resort also will be part of the scheme with its two-night, mid-week packages.
Mrs Beggs said by taking a winter holiday on the island, members of the public will not only be enjoying one of the State's finest recreation destinations, they also will be contributing to the Paralympics Fund.
Mr Edwards said the Paralympians had not only overcome disabilities and disappointments, but through sheer determination they had been selected to represent Australia at the Games.
"To be denied the opportunity through lack of funding at this critical stage would be a severe blow," he said.
The Ministers said the Rottnest community and sponsors in the media were to be congratulated on their initiative and were confident the public would respond to help the Paralympians.
WA Disabled Sports Association president Kerry Smith said 27 athletes from Western Australia had been selected for the games.
They had been in training for four years and would compete in swimming, track, field, cycling and basketball.
"Within the WA contingent are 11 world record holders and at least another five are confident of bringing home medals from the Games," she said.