Tourists linger, buoy busi­ness

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Shane Ni­chols

IN peak sea­son it’s hard to jam many more vis­i­tors into Port Dou­glas, but the les­son from the Christmas/New Year pe­riod this time is that vis­i­tors are com­ing ear­lier and stay­ing longer.

It’s made a very solid pe­riod of trad­ing for lo­cal op­er­a­tors.

“Ev­ery­one’s had a very good Christmas/New Year trad­ing pe­riod,” said the ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Tourism Port Dou­glas Dain­tree, Tara Bennett.

“In some re­spects it’s been stronger, but be­cause in peak sea­son last year we were nearly at ca­pac­ity it’s hard to build on that.

“What’s been of note though is the ex­ten­sion of stays, so we’ve seen vis­i­tors ar­riv­ing a lit­tle bit ear­lier than would tra­di­tion­ally hap­pen,” she said.

“Usu­ally it is Box­ing Day when we get the main in­flux, but we saw that ear­lier this year and we do ex­pect to see that ex­ten­sion fur­ther into Jan­uary.”

Strong de­mand has meant yields have been ris­ing for many op­er­a­tors.

“We are see­ing our av­er­age rev­enue in­creas­ing and that is ex­actly what you’d hope to see con­sid­er­ing it dropped dra­mat­i­cally in the years of the global fi­nan­cial and the high Aus­tralian dol­lar, so we are only see­ing it get back to where it was eight years ago,” Ms Bennett said.

Chi­nese new year will kick in later this month and Ms Bennett ex­pects the shire to ben­e­fit from the grow­ing Chi­nese vis­i­tor mar­ket, “though we do have to keep in mind that’s com­ing off a very low base”.

Many will be day trip­pers from Cairns, in­clud­ing a greater num­ber of in­de­pen­dent trav­ellers al­ter­ing the mix of the usual group tourists.

“We’ll still see Chi­nese com­ing in groups in the day but I be­lieve firmly that any who stay overnight are go­ing to be in­de­pen­dent trav­ellers.

“We’ve been see­ing that a lot more in the past six months. They are more dis­persed than be­fore.”

Ms Bennett said the ex­pected ma­tur­ing of the Chi­nese trav­eller, who are be­gin­ning to be more ad­ven­tur­ous in their travel goals and are seek­ing dif­fer­en­ti­ated and au­then­tic for­eign ex­pe­ri­ences away from what they can have at home, means Dou­glas is well placed.

“We’ll con­tinue to at­tract that high yield, in­de­pen­dent mar­ket,” she said.

“A lot of our ex­pe­ri­ences are not set up for mass tourism. They’re there for longer, deeper tourism,” though the likes of Hart­ley’s and Moss­man Gorge mean that the mass mar­ket is catered for as well.

The Reef is as pop­u­lar as ever

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