FINALLY there is some good news for both the local tourism and construction industries with the announcement that work will begin next week on the $13.6 million Mossman Gorge Gateway project.
The Indigenous Land Council’s approval for the project at a recent board meeting means one of the most important tourism developments which has been almost 20 years in the making is finally about to get off the ground.
Preliminary works will start at the site next week after contractor FK Gardner and Sons were announced as the winning bidders.
The Gateway project will include a new modern visitor’s centre, a cafe, art gallery and gift shop and cultural displays.
There will also be parking for 200 vehicles and the centre will low lowemission shuttle buses to get visitors to the World Heritage-listed rainforest area.
The project will provide much-needed work for the local construction industry once the building works ramp up next year and also provide an avenue for local indigenous employment in both the building phase and once the development is completed.
There is genuine excitement among the region’s indigenous community which will become the focus of the new precinct and will benefit with employment opportunities once the centre opens.
In more sombring news, the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics outline the stark reality of the tourism downturn in the Douglas region.
Accommodation revenue has dropped by 20 per cent since 2004 with visitor nights and the average room rates dropping significantly.
Next week’s joint forum to be hosted by Tourism Port Douglas Daintree and the Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce is a great opportunity for local businesses to get a good understanding of the “big picture” and plan for the future.
There are some exciting projects in the pipeline such as the waterfront development but the completion of this is still a few years away and there will be more pain in the meantime for many operators. But at least there are positive signs and if businesses have survived the past few years then hopefully they can hang on until prosperity returns.