REVITALISING PORT DOUGLAS Port ‘massification’
A LACK of lack of unity in the region, no unique identity, tourist massification, decline in investment and marketing issues are the major challenges facing Port Douglas, according to the Melbourne Business School.
The MBS’S “Revitalising Port Douglas” report points to the absence of a clear unified vision for the community as a significant hurdle as the many different stakeholders with separate agendas stifle a coordinated response to the economic decline.
The report cites “tourist massification”, which has meant the loss of a premium destination status over recent years through a decline in high-end tourists, five-star resorts dropping rates, a rise in low-end tourists and a decline in investment in high-end tourists, as a primary cause of the region’s financial pain.
Lower rates have led to less profitability to refurbish or invest in properties, according to the report, resulting in a decline in the high-end market and a loss of premier destination status, particularly internationally.
The report suggests tourism underperformance has been driven by a lack of cohesion and planning on the back of significant property developments as there was little control or planning when supply overtook demand.
The report outlines underlying reasons including low co-ordination across tourismrelated businesses in marketing and investment, lacking industry data collection by local and regional tourism boards and emerging markets not receiving adequate attention.
As a result of this, the report claims, room nights are continuing to decline in the low season and are sitting around 60 per cent in the high season, which is lower than both the Queensland and Australian averages.
Another challenge is the loss of Port Douglas’s identity, which has been branded as “naturally paradise” and “adventurous by nature” by regional and local tourism bodies.
Port Douglas also has been branded “where the reef meets the rainforest”, however, both Palm Cove and Cairns are identified the same way.
Port Douglas has a marketing budget of $500,000, which generates exposure of $22 million, but TPDD’S marketing plan lists 18 target segments, which the report claims is too many.
The report also analyses Port Douglas’s online presence, which has been labelled “uncoordinated, conflicting and confusing”.