Port has to pick its path: De Ross
Chamber president highlights conflicting attitudes
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