Strug­gling Dain­tree calls to make ferry free for Cairns

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

THE strug­gling Dain­tree busi­ness com­mu­nity has begged Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil to waive all ferry fees for Cairns res­i­dents for one month.

The Dain­tree ferry sold just 7763 tick­ets in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary this year, a drop of al­most 50 per cent on the pre­vi­ous year.

The de­cline in vis­i­tors has been no­ticed and re­marked upon by busi­ness op­er­a­tors in Cape Tribu­la­tion and Cow Bay, who think coun­cil should give the em­bat­tled rain­for­est com­mu­nity a break. They be­lieve the best way to in­tro­duce res­i­dents of the wider Cairns re­gion to the Dain­tree is to tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend the ferry fee for all res­i­dents of the Cairns coun­cil area.

Coun­cil CEO Lyn Rus­sell said the idea was be­ing con­sid­ered in cur­rent bud­get dis­cus­sions, but would not be acted on in April.

“A pol­icy change like this needs to be con­sid­ered in the con­text of the over­all bud­get,” Ms Rus­sell said. “It needs to be seen from a strate­gic per­spec­tive. The idea will be put to the coun­cil as part of a broader con­sid­er­a­tion of fees and charges.”

How­ever, af­ter a hor­ror cou­ple of years, lo­cal busi­nesses are hop­ing for quick ac­tion.

“Over the past two years we’ve seen a num­ber of busi­nesses close down, and a lot of peo­ple are re­port­ing a 50 per cent re­duc­tion in busi­ness since last year,” Dain­tree Mar­ket­ing Co­op­er­a­tive chair Michaela Flood said.

“There was no Christ­mas ’bounce’ this year, and it’s clear we need to do some­thing to re-es­tab­lish the Dain­tree as a week­end get­away for Cairns res­i­dents.

“We know many Cairns res­i­dents have never vis­ited the Dain­tree, and some of them would be dis­in­clined, given the price.

“The VFR mar­ket, vis­it­ing friends and rel­a­tives, is im­por­tant in Cairns, and res­i­dents are

We need to re-es­tab­lish the Dain­tree as a get­away for Cairns res­i­dents

— Michaela Flood

un­likely to rec­om­mend their friends visit the Dain­tree if they’ve never been them­selves.”

Dain­tree busi­ness­man Lawrence Ma­son said he had hoped coun­cil would ad­dress the is­sue in this week’s meet­ing.

“We wanted coun­cil to trial this ar­range­ment over April and, if it was suc­cess­ful, con­sider mak­ing it per­ma­nent,” Mr Lawrence said. “Lo­cals don’t have to pay to go to Mis­sion Beach or the Table­lands, but they have to pay to use the ferry. “We’re all one coun­cil area now. “It should be the same rule for ev­ery­one.” Be­fore the shot­gun mar­riage of the Dou­glas shire and Cairns city coun­cils in 2008, Dou­glas shire res­i­dents could ob­tain an an­nual pass to use the coun­cil-run ferry, a pol­icy which re­mained in place af­ter amal­ga­ma­tion.

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