Unity call from fo­rum

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Nichols

LEIGH Rat­cliffe, the project con­sul­tant to the Full­share Group’s re­de­vel­op­ment of the Sher­a­ton Mi­rage in Port Dou­glas, has called for the busi­ness com­mu­nity to come to­gether to ad­vance their in­ter­ests and goals.

It was a com­mon theme through much of the DSC’s in­au­gu­ral Busi­ness Fo­rum last week.

“We all know the past seven years have been hell up here,” Mr Rat­cliffe said.

“In 2008 the world col­lapsed up here – it was the worst cor­ner of Aus­tralia.”

He de­scribed the loom­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties as 200 mil­lion Chi­nese mid­dle class tourists be­gan to ex­plore the world.

He said the des­ti­na­tion of our tourism offering was a “rich ta­pes­try” but “it is all about work­ing to­gether”.

He re­called how dur­ing the pi­lots strike in the early ’80s the tourism bod­ies in Cairns and Port Dou­glas sent team over­seas, “pitch­ing to­gether” this re­gion as a tourism des­ti­na­tion.

“They were a very co­he­sive team. That’s what’s got to come back – the team.

“Ev­ery­body should pull to- gether, no mat­ter which area of the econ­omy or so­ci­ety you are from.”

Wendy Mor­ris re­called the same era: “When we had down times, some­thing that really kept this place go­ing was ev­ery­one work­ing to­gether.”

She de­scribed how the busi­ness com­mu­nity worked “really hard for about a year” at the end of the pi­lots’ strike “to get this place mov­ing again”.

It in­volved enor­mous ef­fort, such as plac­ing sam­ples of Mocka’s Pies in ev­ery travel agents of­fices in the na­tion, a to­tal of around 1400 travel agents.

Phoebe Kitto re­lated her ex­pe­ri­ence of start­ing a busi­ness at the height of the GFC and re­marked that it “takes a re­gion to raise a busi­ness” – mean­ing that the sup­port she got from other busi­nesses, es- pe­cially the Cham­ber of Commerce, was enor­mously valu­able.

Ms Kitto rec­om­mended busi­nesses be in­volved with the cham­ber, for the mu­tual sup­port it of­fers through mem­ber­ship.

“If we we all work to­gether on chas­ing our goals are we are much more likely to achieve suc­cess than to go out as in­di­vid­u­als and try to chip away.

“If we work to­gether as a cham­ber we can reach some really good goals. With one com­mon voice we can get some trac­tion.”

The cham­ber has a spe­cial mem­ber­ship of­fer at the mo­ment of just $50 a year.

Per­haps it was fit­ting that the speaker given the fi­nal word, Mark Matthews, of Ad­vance Cairns, spoke the most point­edly about the need for col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Col­lab­o­ra­tion, as an ex­am­ple, had helped achieve at least some suc­cess in the face of the moves to shut down any ex­pan­sion of the port of Cairns.

The strug­gle over the port is not over, he said, but it is col­lab­o­ra­tion and the strength of that col­lab­o­ra­tion “that will bring suc­cess”.

“My chal­lenge to you as a com­mu­nity is to work to­gether. Shout it from the rooftops.”

We all know the past seven years have been hell up here. In 2008 the world col­lapsed up here – it was the worst cor­ner of Aus­tralia Leigh Rat­cliffe, Sher­a­ton project con­sul­tant

Pic­ture: SHANE NICHOLS

Haydn Slat­tery, Wendy Mor­ris, Phoebe Kitto, Mark Hober and Leigh Rat­cliffe

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