Report posits growth plan
THE newly named Douglas Chamber of Commerce - no longer referring to Port Douglas - presented a report on Tuesday night that probes ways to build a sustainable economic future for the region.
The thrust of the report is that local businesses must contribute more to the funding of the local bodies, especially Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, which promote the region as a tourism destination. One option being put forward is to revive the apartment levy which the former Shire council instituted as a way of raising funds for bodies that promote the area overall.
The need arises because, as the chamber’s economoic development group points out, the region main tourism promotion bodies are woefully underfunded when compared with its peers further south. This is even worse when it is taken into account that this region’s economy is the most tourism dependent in all of the nation - by a mile.
Presenting the report, Martin Tranter pointed out that the local tourism industry is worth about $600 million a year, yet only about $ 420,000 is spent on its promotion in a year.
‘‘ We need $ 2 million,’’ Mr Tranter said, in order for effective destination marketing to be assured. ‘‘ We need to punch above our weight. We need to willingly invest in our organisations; we don’t sufficiently fund our business bodies. We must better resource Tourism Port Douglas Daintree.’’
He referred to the fact that many businesses make no contribution, are not affiliated with the chamber of other bodies in this field, and the situation must change. ‘‘We need to get community acceptance and buy-in,’’ he told the meeting on Tuesday. ‘‘We need to re-introduce the apartment levy ASAP.’’
The levy, which was dropped by the Cairns Regional Council, used to raise about $410,000.
Mr Tranter’s committee had worked with a report that was produced, at considerable cost by industry experts, back in 1998 and which had lain dormant until the chamber was prompted to reexamine it, using its material as a handy benchmark for its own new report presented this week.