Funding fails to keep up
FOLLOWING on from last week’s article based on the Chamber of Commerce’s recent economic development study, this week looks at how much is spent on marketing the region compared to competitor markets.
The Chamber is keen for feedback on the report from the wider community, business, and mayoral and councillor candidates, as the new Douglas faces the future.
Last week’s information from the Douglas Strategy Report identified the size of the tourism and cane industries in Douglas and demonstrated the fundamental dependence of the region on tourism.
‘‘Any reduction of that appeal to tourists, or allowing promotion of the region to either diminish or lapse would mean the employment and overall financial livelihood of 80 per cent of the families/residents in the region would be fundamentally jeopardised or lost altogether,’’ the group’s report says.
The appeal of the Douglas Region depends upon our tourism product and marketing competing successfully with other Domestic and wider Pacific/Asian Tourism Hot Spot areas.
An analysis of other tourist hot spots reveals the Douglas region spends significantly less (based on a percentage of revenue generated from tourism) than all the the regions’ competitor governments.
Council’s support of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD) has been static at between $420,000 and $430,000 a year.
The report acknowledged the Douglas region has enjoyed a sustained tourist ‘‘season’’ this year, certainly by far the best since the impact of the Global Financial Crisis, but it should not be taken for granted that the good times are back.
‘‘ The 2013-14 paradigm is that the Douglas Region via the new Council must find the money to properly resource Tourism Port Douglas Daintree - the Destination Marketer,’’ the report says.
‘‘Find the money or watch the region and its residents pay the price!’’
Clearly, the report argues, financial support from the council has not increased significantly since 2006, leaving the area a clear last when compared to competitors such as the Whitsundays, Noosa, Townsville and the Gold Coast.
‘‘It is a testament to the talent and considerable skill that TPDD bring to the table and also to the costly private marketing endeavours of the Regions’ major operator and accommodation providers over the past 18 months that the region is undergoing a tourism resurgence,’’ it says.
‘‘However any business owner or operator will tell you that where the income for your business is capped or remains relatively stagnant for a period of some seven years, there is very little opportunity and even less enthusiasm to grow the business or to inject fresh approaches or roles in to how that business is run.’’
The group’s report concludes that if the region is to remain a tourism hot spot, TPDD must be funded to a higher level than it currently is.
‘‘ If we want TPDD to compete strongly it needs to be the wellfunded participatory partner in the room not the poor LTO at the end of the table.’’