Port has to pick its path: De Ross

Cham­ber pres­i­dent high­lights con­flict­ing at­ti­tudes

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Scott Tib­balls

THE Dou­glas Shire needs to de­cide whether it’s a laid­back place stuck in time or whether it’s a high end des­ti­na­tion for af­flu­ent cus­tomers.

These are the to think about when it comes to its near fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to Dou­glas Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent He­len De Ross.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms De Ross, work­shop sur­veys within the cham­ber had iden­ti­fied two pri­or­i­ties for Port Dou­glas that clash.

The work­shops “high­lighted the com­mu­nity’s pri­or­ity to en­sure the re­gion be­comes/ main­tains a “premium brand” ...(and) con­flict­ing pri­or­i­ties to main­tain a small town “sleepy fish­ing vil­lage” at­mos­phere,” she ex­plained.

“While be­ing both are our utopia, find­ing that bal­ance is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble.”

The re­sult of this clash was “an iden­tity cri­sis. Are we a high end premium brand or are we a small vil­lage?

“The re­gion needs to de­cide which path it wants to go down and build in­fra­struc­ture, plan and sup­port ac­cord­ingly.”

The in­ter­nal bat­tle within the Port Dou­glas busi­ness com­mu­nity and wider com­mu­nity is “hold­ing us back,” she said.

Ms De Ross ex­plained that both op­tions re­quired work.

“If Port Dou­glas chooses to be a premium, high-end brand we need to build in­fra­struc­ture which will sup­port the lo­cal work­force such as af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion and trans­port as it will be dif­fi­cult to live in town in a high end mar­ket.

“Al­ter­na­tively, if Port Dou­glas chooses to be a small, quaint town we need to stop invit­ing bil­lion­aire de­vel­op­ers to look at po­ten­tial ho­tel sites and fo­cus on key pri­or­i­ties that will suit this type of re­gion.”

Ms De Ross said that her pref­er­ence was for Port Dou­glas to be a premium brand, and that Port Dou­glas had the as­sets to be placed “in the same league, if not above Sey­chelles, Mal­dives and Bora Bora”, which are des­ti­na­tions that re­quire a lot of money to get to even be­fore step­ping out your front door.

“As a premium brand, we would not seek to be known as a cheaper al­ter­na­tive to some­where else ... we would want peo­ple to come here re­gard­less be­cause it is a ‘bucket list’s des­ti­na­tion.

If this is the path to strive for then we must en­able these im­prove­ments to keep up with world stan­dards.

If Port Dou­glas chooses to be a small, quaint town we need to stop invit­ing bil­lion­aire de­vel­op­ers to look at po­ten­tial ho­tel sites and fo­cus on key pri­or­i­ties that will suit this type of re­gion

He­len De Ross

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