Time for change says Palm Cove president

Monday 24 January 2011

Time for change says Palm Cove president


by Mat Churchill

Tourism Palm Cove has elected a new president who is determined to take a fresh, collaborative approach to tourism in the area.

Paul La Fontaine said the tourism body, which started in the mid 90's, has never really had a strategic approach with a long term view, something he is keen to rectify.

"Businesses in Palm Cove have identified that this is a major opportunity to take Palm Cove to a new level," he said.

To do this, a new group is being formed that will work in conjunction with Tourism Palm Cove.

"Tourism Palm Cove is a membership organisation made up of most of the businesses in Palm Cove. The (new group) is a community organisation that will involve all of the residents, the investment property owners, and will have a big picture focus that will look at the infrastructure, developmental matters that have significant tourism and economic development impacts, but which are not direct marketing."

Mr La Fontaine, who became president of TPC in December 2010, is the owner of Pandanus Gallery, a small aboriginal art gallery in Palm Cove, and says it was his attitude to change that was a platform when seeking the presidency.

One of Mr La Fontaine's ambitions is to work more closely with Port Douglas, while maintaining Palm Cove's own identity.

"From a conceptual perspective the most significant thing is breaking down barriers in relationships. As far as I can see. . . is that there has been a traditional lack of communication between the organisations in Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

"I believe that's counter-productive to everybody's interests. When you have that at that level you also will find that same level of non-cooperation in each of the centres.

"The first step for Palm Cove, being along way behind what Port Douglas has achieved, is for us to break down the barriers between ourselves."

Mr La Fontaine said that while much of the region is struggling economically, now is the time for organisations and towns to unite.

"We're all in this together, it's not a zero-sum game in the medium to long term. It may appear to be in the short term because business is short. But that's the best time for people to come together, put aside the differences….and see the bigger picture and work towards a common goal based on collaboration."

"The tourism and economic troubles that we are having might continue for longer than many of us might like, but are truly opportunities for us to direct our creative energies collectively while recognising differences, while recognising our need to have independence….collaboration is the solution and I can't tell you how excited I am."