TTNQ boss down­plays flood im­pact on re­gion

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

TOURISM op­er­a­tors are fum­ing over com­ments on na­tional ra­dio by the peak re­gional tourism or­gan­i­sa­tion down­play­ing the ef­fect of the floods on visi­ta­tion to the re­gion.

TTNQ mar­ket­ing man­ager Brian Hen­nessey told ABC Ra­dio Na­tional on Tues­day the area had ex­pe­ri­enced only “a very small num­ber of can­cel­la­tions” and over­all, vis­i­tors had “held their nerve and kept com­ing”.

Mr Hen­nessey said de­spite the flood dis­as­ter, it was “busi­ness as usual” in trop­i­cal north Queens­land.

It was in stark con­trast to state­ments by Tourism Aus­tralia and the Queens­land Tourism In­dus­try Coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives ad­vo­cat­ing a case for spe­cial as­sis­tance for an in­dus­try reel­ing from a dra­matic statewide down­turn.

Port Dou­glas Dain­tree Tourism ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Doug Ryan said the com­ments were un­ac­cept­able.

“I strongly dis­agreed with the state­ment and I have since taken steps to en­lighten TTNQ about the plight of op­er­a­tors in Port Dou­glas and the Dain­tree re­gion,” Mr Ryan said. “Cer­tainly our re­gion has suf­fered and suf­fered very badly.”

The im­pact was not only re­flected in sig­nif­i­cant can­cel­la­tions but also the busi­ness which “sim­ply did not hap­pen” de­spite a strong trend to­ward ’last minute’ book­ings in re­cent sea­sons.

“Since Christ­mas Eve un­til now we’ve had noth­ing but neg­a­tive me­dia cov­er­age. When the flood cri­sis hap­pened, it was like a tap be­ing turned off,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is ex­actly the same as the spe­cial cir­cum­stances that af­fect other in­dus­tries in a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter yet some­how tourism al­ways seems to come off sec­ond best when it comes to at­tract­ing govern­ment sup­port,” he said.

Penin­sula Bou­tique Ho­tel owner Sh­eryn Blund­stone said the com­ments were in­dica­tive of a gen­eral lack of un­der­stand­ing by TTNQ of Port Dou­glas and other desti- na­tions within the re­gion.

Ms Blund­stone said can­cel­la­tions at her prop­erty were “more sig­nif­i­cant than a small num­ber” and did not take into ac­count the loss of fu­ture book­ings.

“Where we thought we had an op­por­tu­nity to build on solid book­ings from the pre­vi­ous year, we’ve come up against a brick wall, she said.

When ques­tioned by the Gazette, Mr Hen­nessey saidhe was not aware of mass can­cel­la­tions in the re­gion.

Mr Ryan said he sup­ported in­dus­try calls for spe­cial as­sis­tance but ad­mit­ted it was a “tough job” con­vinc­ing gov­ern­ments.

There was a risk money would be di­verted from tourism to pay for the es­ca­lat­ing cost of the re­con­struc­tion ef­fort.

“Of course we have to look af­ter those peo­ple who have suf­fered so much, but we also have to sup­port the thou­sands of small busi­nesses in the tourism in­dus­try across Queens­land,” he said.

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