Tourism pi­o­neer hon­oured at awards

Whitsunday Times - - 2013 WHITSUNDAY TOURISM AWARDS -

A TRIB­UTE to Whit­sun­days tourism stal­wart, the late Bob Porter, was one of the high­lights of the tourism awards on Satur­day night.

The trib­ute was pre­sented by Mr Porter’s long-time friend and for­mer Whit­sun­day mayor Mario De­mar­tini.

Mr Porter was a pi­o­neer for tourism in the Whit­sun­days and is ar­guably one of the great­est con­trib­u­tors to tourism and de­vel­op­ment in the Whit­sun­days.

His con­tri­bu­tion was, and is still ev­i­denced in many ways through his de­vel­op­ment, mar­ket­ing and vi­sion. His life in the Whit­sun­days started when par­ents Ge­orge and Thelma Porter, along with sis­ter Lane, ar­rived in 1947 and bought a newsagency in Proser­pine.

Later, the busi­ness ex­panded to in­clude a tourist agency and lo­cal agent for T.A.A, known as Porters Travel.

Dur­ing that time, the Proser­pine Air­port, which had opened in 1951, op­er­ated a daily DC3 ser­vice be­tween Bris­bane and Proser­pine.

Porters Travel were the lo­cal travel agency that drove the suc­cess of the in­au­gu­ral flights into the Whit­sun­day re­gion and main­tained that daily ser­vice.

Mr Porter’s in­creas­ing in­ter­est in tourism re­sulted in ex­pand­ing the Proser­pine travel and jew­ellery busi­ness to a larger store and sell­ing off the newsagency sec­tion.

The Porter fam­ily be­came very in­volved in the es­tab­lish­ment of the port at Shute Har­bour.

Af­ter the con­struc­tion of the ter­mi­nal in 1967, the fam­ily ob­tained the first lease and built the first kiosk on the jetty, called Porters Travel and In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre.

They sold cruise tick­ets, is­land book­ings and sou­venirs.

By 1968, Porters were also the T.A.A. agents for the Shute Har­bour Air­port, un­der­stand­ing the value of com­menc­ing re­gional tourism by feeder planes car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers to and from Mackay and Townsville.

In 1970, a turn­ing point for tourism in the Whit­sun­days, Bob and the Porter fam­ily built the first tourist re­sort on the main­land – known as the Whit­sun­day Vil­lage Re­sort.

It was a 150 bed ac­com­mo­da­tion trop­i­cal life­style vil­lage, and re­mains prom­i­nent on the Air­lie Beach land­scape and is now known as Mag­nums.

Bob was the driver be­hind and in­stru­men­tal in hav­ing the cruise ship in­dus­try call in at the Whit­sun­days, an­chor­ing in Cid Har­bour.

He ar­ranged for lo­cal tourist op­er­a­tors to take boats and guests on day trips to the outer reef and lo­cal is­lands.

Ten years later there were 25 ships and in 2013 this has in­creased to 43 ships with 42,000 pas­sen­gers choos­ing to visit our shores.

The Air­lie Beach Fun Race com­menced in 1976 out of a friendly duel be­tween Bob Porter and the South­wood fam­ily.

The fol­low­ing year their boats Dahlia and Tor­res Her­ald re­sumed their rivalry and a few more boats also en­tered the race.

To add in­ter­est the Tor­res Her­ald fixed a lo­cally carved wooden fe­male fig­ure to the front of their boat while Bob, hav­ing no time to do like­wise, de­cided to use a live fig­ure­head on the Dahlia and so the fun race was born.

With the ex­pan­sion of the tourist in­dus­try Bob and the Porter Fam­ily bought land in Golden Or­chard Drive and built five ter­raced build­ings con­sist­ing of 62 units.

A grand scale restau­rant, two pools, disco and gym all with great views was magic for its time and the Whit­sun­day Ter­races Re­sort was of­fi­cially opened in De­cem­ber 1982.

As time went on Bob re­lo­cated to Bris­bane where he op­er­ated Porters Travel, still con­tin­u­ing to pro­mote the Whit­sun­days. The Whit­sun­day re­gion is in­debted to Bob and his fam­ily for his many achieve­ments dur­ing the 70’s and 80’s. He was a true pi­o­neer­ing leg­end and the Queens­land tourism in­dus­try lost one of its most pas­sion­ate Whit­sun­day sup­port­ers with his pass­ing in 2007.

EF­FORTS HON­OURED: Mario De­mar­tini with fam­ily mem­bers of the late Bob Porter, Christo­pher and Thelma Porter and He­lene Telford. Bob was hon­oured with a cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion on Satur­day night.

EARLY DAYS: Porter's Travel, founded by the late Bob Porter, helped drive tourism in the Whit­sun­days for decades.

TOURISM PI­O­NEER: The late Robert 'Bob' Porter has been hon­oured for his out­stand­ing ser­vice to tourism in the Whit­sun­days. His fam­ily ac­cepted a cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion at the Whit­sun­day Tourism Awards on Satur­day night.

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