Figures show full extent of tourism slump in Douglas
REVENUE from accommodation in Port Douglas has dropped by more than 20 per cent in just six years due to an alarming fall in visitor nights and the slashing of room rates.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show visitor nights in Port Douglas have dropped from 1,114,285 in 2004 to 938,928 this financial year, a drop of 16 per cent.
Over the same period, accommodation takings have plummeted from $85.455 million to $67.943 million, with the average nightly room rate cut by almost 10 per cent from $174 to $158.
In his annual report to members this week, Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce president Ken Dobbs said businesses in the tourist town were still struggling to overcome the effects of the global financial crisis.
Mr Dobbs said “increased interest rates and the exchange rate for the Australian dollar” had complicated matters for tourism and related nesses even further.
“Since 2004 there has been a steady decline in visitor nights, accommodation takings and the nightly rate for accommodation,” Mr Dobbs said.
“The accommodation figures directly impact the retail, restaurant and tour operator sectors.
“Although there are no official figures, the evidence is that these sectors are under severe pressure.
“The real estate sales and investment sectors mirror these difficulties.”
Mr Dobbs said Port Douglas had maintained market share within a shrinking tourism sector which had been cannibalised by the rising Australian dollar.
“Our market share has not declined but the size of the pie has,” he said.
“There is now a net loss on tourism in Australia, with more Australians holidaying overseas than overseas residents holidaying in Australia.”
Mr Dobbs said he remained hopeful the tourism market had hit bottom and was starting to show green shoots.
“Next year we should see some growth but, as can be seen, we need consistent strong growth just to get back to 2004 levels.”
The only thing to do, Mr Dobbs said, was to focus on the areas where local efforts could make a difference.
“There are a lot of fundamental things we can’t influence,” he said.
“We can’t change the weather, reduce the exchange rate, remove the stingers or force people to holiday in Port Douglas.
“We can’t compete on price with overseas destinations, not when the dollar is this strong, so we have to focus on making sure the destination presents well and ensuring the quality of our product.”
Carnivale will remain a major focus of the Chamber’s business support efforts in 2011, along with efforts to revitalise the waterfront and esplanade.