The Pilbara’s reputation as a place to visit has increased exponentially over the past few years and now three towns in the region have made the list of the best tourism destinations in WA.

Karratha and Exmouth are both finalists for the GWN7 Top Tourism Town Award, while Tom Price is one of 10 locations to make the Emerging Tourism Town Award shortlist.

It’s the first time Karratha has been named a finalist in the awards, and Pilbara Tourism Association chairman Barry Harrison said people were finally starting to realise the tourism assets the city had.

“Tourism in Karratha has been suppressed for a lot of years due to work around the resources sector,” he said.

“But now we have a burgeoning tourism industry which is really taking off, including the World Heritage nomination for Murujuga National Park, the Dampier Archipelago, camping, fishing, diving and paddle boarding and a range of new operators which will open up over the coming years.”

Shire of Exmouth president Matthew Niikkula said the town was the jewel in the WA tourism crown.

“Whether you want to swim with whale sharks and whales, experience some of the best game fishing in the world, dive the navy pier, snorkel Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, explore the Cape Range National Park or just relax on one of our stunning beaches, Exmouth offers it all,” he said.

It’s also the first time Tom Price has been a finalist in the GWN7 awards, and Mr Harrison said the small town was the unknown gateway to Karijini National Park.

“With more emphasis being placed on our parks across WA, especially Karijini, which is undoubtedly the best park in Australia, Tom Price will develop itself further as more people go there,” he said.

Voting is now open, and closes on August 25, with 30 per cent to be decided by a panel of industry judges and 70 per cent to be made up by public vote.

To vote, go to westernaustralia.com.