Bligh prom­ises to give Rooms hit rock bot­tom back ma­rina mil­lions

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

QUEENS­LAND Premier Anna Bligh promised to re­turn any funds from the sale of the Port Dou­glas ma­rina back to the com­mu­nity in a light­ning visit to the re­gion last week.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the des­per­ate state of tourism in the Dou­glas re­gion, Ms Bligh said the State Gov­ern­ment would be will­ing to con­trib­ute the pro­ceeds of the sale of the two Meri­dien leases to the rede­vel­op­ment of the Water­front.

The value of the two leases has been es­ti­mated at up to $40 mil­lion, how­ever the state en­vi­ron­men­tal agency, the Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­source Man­age­ment, is cur­rently car­ry­ing out a full eval­u­a­tion of the site to de­ter­mine its true value.

Meri­dien has in­di­cated it still plans to re­de­velop the ma­rina site, but has not yet sub­mit­ted a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion to coun­cil.

The Premier also gave the pro­posed Port Dou­glas la­goon pool a big “thumbs up” last Thurs­day as she swept through town, an­nounc­ing an im­me­di­ate State Gov­ern­ment con­tri­bu­tion of $30,000 for the pro­ject.

“This grant will help take the la­goon to the next stage,” premier Bligh said.

“It will help get the ap­provals, get it the point where we can pull to­gether a fund­ing pack­age.

“In my back­yard, in the elec­torate of South Bris­bane, I know how trans­for­ma­tional the la­goon on South­bank has been, also in Air­lie Beach and on the Cairns es­planade.

“I ex­pect it will do ex­actly the same thing in Port Dou­glas.”

Lo­cal po­lit­i­cal, busi­ness and tourism lead­ers say the Premier’s seal of ap­proval is more im­por­tant than the $30,000 fund­ing.

“It’s un­ex­pected, and a wel­come ges­ture,” Divi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said.

“More sig­nif­i­cant, I think, is that the Premier made a com­mit­ment to re­turn any funds from the sale of the ma­rina leases to the com­mu­nity for the de­vel­op­ment of the Water­front.

Port Dou­glas Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Ken Dobbs said the $30,000 com­mit­ment from the State Gov­ern­ment was “a drop in the bucket” but wel­comed the an­nounce­ment on the Water­front leases.

“The Premier sup­ported the con­cept of rein­ject­ing the money from the water­front leases back into the com­mu­nity,” Mr Dobbs said. “That’s the guar­an­tee the cham­ber wanted.”

Doug Ryan, the ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Tourism Port Dou­glas Dain­tree, said the $30,000 grant would help fast-track the pro­ject.

“If we can fast-track the plan­ning process and come up with some cost­ings, we can go back to the Gov­ern­ment for some se­ri­ous fund­ing.” ONE of the most alarm­ing num­bers to emerge dur­ing Premier Anna Bligh’s visit to Port Dou­glas last week was the as­ton­ish­ing oc­cu­pancy rate at lo­cal re­sorts.

De­spite rock-bot­tom room rates and $1 air­fares from south­ern cap­i­tal cities, Port re­sorts re­ported a hor­ren­dous 6.25 per cent oc­cu­pancy rate last week.

The num­bers res­onated with the Premier, who men­tioned dur­ing her lunchtime ad­dress the fact that “500 of 8000 rooms were oc­cu­pied”.

“Of the prop­er­ties I spoke to (last week), the top 13 were run­ning at 10 per cent and many of the smaller re­sorts were empty or well be­low 10 per cent,” ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for Tourism Port Dou­glas Dain­tree Doug Ryan said.

“I’ve been here 21 years. I re­mem­ber the pi­lots’ strike (in 1989).

“We’ve prob­a­bly got the same num­ber of vis­i­tors now as we had then, but we’ve got twice as many rooms.

“Look­ing for­ward, eco­nomic pro­jec­tions are look­ing stronger for the do­mes­tic econ­omy. There are more flights and they’re cheap, ac­com­mo­da­tion rates are down, so we should get the vis­i­tors.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.