Re­port posits growth plan

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Nichols

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.

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