Port cashes in on party

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Bianca Kee­gan

PORT Dou­glas has cashed in on Chi­nese New Year ar­rivals as re­sorts, restaurants and tour oper­a­tors re­port a bumper start to the sea­son.

The in­flux of Chi­nese tourists started in the weeks leading up to the Jan­uary 31 cel­e­bra­tion and only fin­ished this month.

One of the re­gion’s largest reef oper­a­tors, Quick­sil­ver, ex­pe­ri­enced booked out tours de­spite hav­ing to halt op­er­a­tions for two days be­cause of a loom­ing cy­clone.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Tony Baker said their fleet of 12 ves­sels was busy fer­ry­ing people to dive and snorkel sites off Cairns and Port Dou­glas.

‘‘Over re­cent years the Chi­nese New Year mar­ket has grown from be­ing a tra­di­tion­ally quiet pe­riod in Port Dou­glas to a very busy pe­riod for us,’’ he said.

‘‘The shoul­der pe­ri­ods (be­fore and af­ter Chi­nese New Year) have been longer this year and there were a lot more free and in­de­pen­dent Chi­nese vis­i­tors.

‘‘Our outer reef prod­ucts were full over the Chi­nese New Year pe­riod.’’

A spokes­woman for Tourism Port Dou­glas and Dain­tree said 2014 ap­peared to be the busiest Chi­nese New Year yet.

‘‘We did not gather any sta­tis­tics on visi­ta­tion over Chi­nese New Year how­ever anec­do­tally there ap­peared to be more Chi­nese vis­i­tors in the re­gion than pre­vi­ous years,’’ she said. QT Re­sort gen­eral man­ager Steven Oak­ley agreed there was a cer­tain buzz in the beach­side town.

‘‘We ex­pe­ri­enced a longer stay range which in re­al­ity is in­dica­tive of the ris­ing num­bers of Chi­nese vis­i­tors,’’ he said.

‘‘The Chi­nese New Year gen­er­ally ar­rives in what is deemed the lower sea­son for the re­gion where most oper­a­tors ex­pe­ri­ence re­duced oc­cu­pancy (so) Chi­nese New Year greatly as­sisted our oc­cu­pancy and has proven to be a dra­matic in­crease year on year.’’

Salsa Bar and Grill restau­rant man­ager Re­nae Red­drop said menus had been trans­lated into Man­darin to at­tract Chi­nese din­ers.

‘‘ We’ve had re­ally great num­bers of Chi­nese com­ing through,’’ the Port Dou­glas staffer said. ‘‘We are still full ev­ery night and we were get­ting about 20 per cent (of din­ers) from China for both lunch and din­ner.’’

Ms Red­drop said many tourists she had been talk­ing to were stay­ing in the coun­try for up to four weeks.

‘‘They had the Great Bar­rier Reef as a des­ti­na­tion, Syd­ney and Ayers Rock so they were here to check out the main spots in Aus­tralia.’’

Ac­cord­ing to a JCU tourism re­port, the aver­age spend for a fam­ily hol­i­day­ing in Port Dou­glas and Dain­tree is al­most $4000. Last year, the ma­jor­ity of vis­i­tors trav­elled from Europe and the United King­dom fol­lowed by the US, Pa­cific na­tions and Asia.

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