Great season for business
THE Christmas-new Year period has been the busiest since before the global financial crisis for many in the Port Douglas hospitality industry.
Italian restaurant bel cibo’s owner Andy Gray has reported the busiest festive season since he started three years ago with “big numbers” walking in.
“We certainly had a huge week, our busiest week we’ve had, I think that’s part to do with the reputation getting built up, the team we’ve got on the floor and in the kitchen,” he said.
“The weather’s very good and that obviously keeps people around and I think you might start seeing benefits from things like the Challenge Cairns.
“Also the amount of money that’s been thrown at advertising down south to come up to Far North Queensland to have a holiday.
“I’ve talked to a lot of restaurants and cafes, the juice bar said he did a record morning, it’s all about eating and drinking at Christmas time and I think that’s why the restaurants and cafes do better around this time of year.”
While the end of the festive season and beginning of school will see tourist numbers drop for the remainder of the school holidays, there is still a good vibe around town.
“It’s still busy now,” Mr Gray said.
“It’s been great looking around town and seeing heaps of people and no car parks.
“And once they’re here if we can give them good food, good service and a smile, they might not come back next year but they might come back the following year or they’ll tell someone it was good here and someone else will come.”
The high numbers of tourists is reflective of the near-full status of the resorts around town, with the Sheraton Mirage boasting a capacity of under-90 per cent for Christmas and 99 per cent for New Year’s.
Sheraton Mirage’s rev- enue manager Amanda Harpley said the figures for Christmas has substantially increased compared to previous years.
“What we’re seeing coming through occupancy is quite good demand and in December overall we did better than previous years and we’re looking at an improvement in occupancy for January,” she said.
“It has been mostly domestic business but definitely demand for the destination is still there, if people can get a deal they definitely want to come up here and everyone is looking for a deal.
“Over the New Year period as far as numbers, we’re looking at 800 to 900 people and that was quite good for the restaurant outlets.”
The hospitality industry is looking forward to the upcoming events of 2012, including Challenge Cairns and the November total solar eclipse which is expected to bring up to 20,000 people to our region.
Bellisimo: bel cibo’s Antoine Vautherot and Andy Gray have been flat out