In­ter­est rates, high dol­lar ‘toxic brew’ for tourism

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - SAM SMALL­BONE

PAR­ADISE has an un­fair price to pay.

Tourism op­er­a­tors and lo­cal busi­nesses in the Dou­glas re­gion face the lat­est round of in­ter­est rate rise af­ter two years of strug­gling against the ef­fects of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

It is be­gin­ning to be­come all doom and gloom for the peo­ple who live in re­gional ar­eas af­ter the Re­serve Bank lifted the of­fi­cial rate by 0.25 per cent this week to 4.75 per cent.

Gen­eral man­ager of TTNQ Steven Den­nis is cer­tain the lat­est in­ter­est rate rise will af­fect tourism in the re­gion.

“I think it def­i­nitely is go­ing to af­fect tourism in the area,” Mr Den­nis said.

“Tourism has just started to slowly re­cover af­ter the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis but the Aussie dol­lar con­tin­ues to rise.

“I think peo­ple are def­i­nitely go­ing to be sec­ond guess­ing their hol­i­days this year.

“I think a lot of peo­ple will want to travel over­seas rather than within Aus­tralia to es­cape the high Aussie dol­lar.”

Mr Den­nis pre­dicts many fam­i­lies will travel to New Zealand over the Christ­mas hol­i­days to save al­most 30 per cent of what they would spend trav­el­ling to the Dou­glas re­gion.

“It is hard to know ex­actly what the Christ­mas break will be like this year as many more peo­ple are book­ing their flights on­line at the spur of a moment.

“The flights to Cairns and New Zealand are very sim­i­lar prices, and there is very lit­tle time dif­fer­ence,” he said.

Aus­tralian Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Matt Hingerty said the banks are mak­ing a bad sit­u­a­tion worse for the coun­try’s tourism op­er­a­tors, al­ready hurt­ing from the high Aussie dol­lar.

“The in­ter­est rate rise has cre­ated a toxic brew for the Aus­tralian tourism in­dus­try,” he said.

Di­rec­tor of Trop­i­cal Jour­neys Cathie Jones said that the re­cent rise in in­ter­est rates is go­ing to cause a domino ef­fect in the re­gion.

“This puts all our costs up which is go­ing to be a domino ef­fect down the line. It af­fects ev­ery­one, not just tourism op­er­a­tors be­cause it makes peo­ple think twice about their hol­i­days be­cause they have less dis­pos­able cash,” she said.

“You can’t put a pos­i­tive spin on an in­ter­est rate rise, I have been through a harsh in­ter­est rate rise once be­fore and I don’t want to do it again,” she said.

How­ever, Port Dou­glas cham­ber of com­merce spokesman for re­tail and restau­rants Doug Calvert be­lieves that the re­gion can eas­ily com­bat the heavy rise.

“I think its con­cern­ing for ev­ery­one be­cause it tight­ens their purse strings but there are so many ways to com­bat the is­sue,” he said.

Mr Den­nis sug­gested that Port Dou­glas and Moss­man in­stall live web cams on the beaches and in the main streets such as Macrossan Street and Front Street to make tourists aware of the weather con­di­tions here in the re­gion.

“I think a lot of peo­ple have a mis­con­cep­tion about the weather here in Port Dou­glas,” he said.

“A lot of peo­ple think that be­cause it is ’wet sea­son’ that it rains all the time. If peo­ple could view Port Dou­glas on­line on a live web cam I think a lot of them would be sur­prised and be in­ter­ested to visit,” he said.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralian Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil Matt Hingerty says that small tourism op­er­a­tors barely sur­vived the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and the Aus­tralian dol­lar and now higher in­ter­est rates is an added bur­den to op­er­a­tors al­ready strug­gling.

“Many small tourism op­er­a­tors barely sur­vived the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and were look­ing for­ward to solid trad­ing con­di­tions, but the dou­ble im­pact of the high dol­lar and high in­ter­est rates will make the re­cov­ery that much harder,” he said.

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