REVITALISING PORT DOUGLAS Time to reverse negative trend
THE final copy of the Melbourne Business School’s report to “Revitalise Port Douglas” has been released to the public.
The report aimed to develop a comprehensive five-year strategic plan for revitalising Port Douglas, with students developing an understanding of issues and challenges through analysis of information and engagement with key stakeholders to develop turnaround strategies.
Over 100 local citizens, businesses and organisations contributed, along with extensive research conducted by the students, which was collated to produce the report.
The report is broken into four sections - growth and development, key challenges, key strategic initiatives and alignment and leadership - followed by the appendices outlining citizens contributions, terms of reference and workstream analysis with a sub-category economic development.
The 193-page report includes valuable data and over the course of the next month the Gazette will analyse each section, focusing this week on growth and development.
The first sections details Port Douglas’s economy, the issues surrounding development, the initial drop in tourism numbers and how Port Douglas is faring in comparison to similar regions.
Port Douglas is heavily dependent on the tourism industry and its natural assets and follows strict environmental regulations on developments to maintain its natural features, but the report suggests the area is losing focus with public discontent over the governance of the Douglas region by the Cairns Regional Council.
The report details the decline in tourism, which started with a 23 per cent drop in 2006 after Cyclone Larry, which indirectly affected the area after negative broadcasts put off tourists.
Figures in the report show Port Douglas has suffered more than than other regional competitors Noosa, Cairns, the Whitsundays and Byron Bay, which all experi- enced a drop in 2006.
The difference in room rates between Port Douglas and its competitors has increased, as a result of Port Douglas dropping its rates to counter the oversupply of beds in the region.
Port Douglas has not been able to bounce back and discounting has only been able to grow guest numbers by 1 per cent on average per annum, compared to Noosa and Byron which grew sharply by 24 and 14 per cent respectively.
On top of this, Port Douglas has to compete against these regions and international areas such as Phuket and Hawaii which also feature world-famous beaches and similar tropical climates.
Cheaper alternate competitors include Cairns, Bali and South Thailand and service levels in Port Douglas have dropped below South East Asia standards, making the competiveness of the area weak.
The growing reliance on the domestic market suggests a loss of global competiveness, with domestic tourists making up 72 per cent of total overnight tourists, whereas the international tourists have gradually declined at 6 per cent per annum since 2005.
Next week find out about the key challenges Port Douglas faces. For a copy of the full version of the MBS report email secretary@ portdouglaschamber.com.au