Tourists linger, buoy business
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