ABS fig­ures growth in ac­com­mo­da­tion

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - CHAR­LIE MCKIL­LOP

AC­COM­MO­DA­TION statis­tics show­ing a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive quar­ter of growth have raised hopes the worst of the tourism down­turn might fi­nally be over.

But in­dus­try lead­ers fear the pos­i­tive trend de­liv­ered in the re­cent Aus­tralian Bureau of Statis­tics (ABS) data for the 2010 Septem­ber quar­ter now might be re­dun­dant in the wake of the Queens­land flood dis­as­ter.

Fig­ures showed four of the past five quar­ters had been pos­i­tive com­pared with seven con­sec­u­tive neg­a­tive quar­ters from De­cem­ber 2007 to June 2009.

A to­tal of 152, 156 room nights oc­cu­pied and ac­com­mo­da­tion tak­ings of $26,927,968 in last year’s Septem­ber quar­ter rep­re­sented a seven per cent in­crease from the pre­vi­ous year.

How­ever, with tourism op­er­a­tors still count­ing the cost of can­cel­la­tions and lost book­ings in Jan­uary, Port Dou­glas Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Ken Dobbs said the flood’s full im­pact re­mained an “un­known quan­tity”.

“There are a ob­vi­ously a lot of peo­ple in Bris­bane, New South Wales and Vic­to­ria di­rectly im­pacted who won’t be tak­ing hol­i­days now and with the prospect of a (flood) levy, there is go­ing to be less money in peo­ple’s pock­ets,” Mr Dobbs said.

“I guess you could say how many would have gone fur­ther back­ward (due to the floods) if this up­ward trend had not oc­curred but if you are a tourism op­er­a­tor, you are prob­a­bly not go­ing to take a whole lot of joy from these fig­ures.

“If we hadn’t had the floods, I sus­pect we’d have ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve we had hit the bot­tom and a re­cov­ery might not be that far away.

“Now, we just don’t know what the fu­ture will bring,” he said.

Mr Dobbs said while not per­fect, the ABS data set pro­vided the most con­sis­tent and re­li­able ba­sis for com­par­i­son of the key eco­nomic driv­ers.

“Room nights are im­por­tant be­cause they’re the thing that delivers in­come to the restau­rants, re­tail­ers and tour op­er­a­tors,” he said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the statis­tics do not cap­ture back­pack­ers’ hos­tels, apart­ments with less than 15 oc­cu­pants or pri­vate hol­i­day homes which are a preva­lent part of the ac­com­mo­da­tion mix here in Port Dou­glas.

“You could prob­a­bly add an­other 10 per cent to the $67 mil­lion an­nual ac­com­mo­da­tion tak­ings and it wouldn’t be far off the mark.”

Mr Dobbs said the pos­i­tive sta­tis­ti­cal re­sult needed to be taken in the con­text of pre­vi­ous re­sults.

“It is quite unique to record four out of the past five quar­ters of pos­i­tive growth but it is not rev­o­lu­tion­ary,” he said.

“It is rea­son­able to think it might be down again in the De­cem­ber quar­ter and prob­a­bly again in March.

“I’m not beat­ing any par­tic­u­lar drum say­ing it’s fan­tas­tic or not fan­tas­tic.

“I just want peo­ple to have re­al­is­tic in­for­ma­tion to re­in­force the fact there is no sin­gle fac­tor or sim­ple so­lu­tion to the chal­lenges we face to­gether.”

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