TTNQ boss downplays flood impact on region
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.