Interest rates, high dollar ‘toxic brew’ for tourism
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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