Tourism still holds the key

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Tourism still holds the key

It's an inescapable fact that tourism has a major role to play in the future of Port Douglas. However those in attendance to Saturday's Melbourne Business School presentation heard that the town's marketing is drastically underfunded.

The Newsport spoke with Doug Ryan, executive officer of the government funded tourism body Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree (he also sits on the MBS Steering Committee) to get his take on the findings.

The Newsport
: As one of the leaders of the town, do you think people would have expected you to be at the MBS presentation on Saturday?

Doug Ryan: I've been involved with Selwyn (D'Souza, Associate Professor from the Melbourne Business School) and looked at the presentation and drafts over time and worked with them closely to do the presentation and get the results. Selwyn has kept me informed over time.

I had guests from interstate and I had to make that choice, but because I'd worked so closely with them I didn't think it was necessary for me to be there.

TN: Cairns seem have taken ownership as the 'Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef' despite Port's rightful claim to the title. Should we deamalgamate from Tourism Tropical North Queensland?

DR: I think there are a number of issues with the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Hamilton Island has used it as well, I think Mackay even used it.

I don't think we're going to lose market share, I think one of the issues is to make sure we're as loud as they are.

For us, the biggest single thing we can achieve is to leverage off other people's money, and that includes TTNQ. TTNQ has a requirement to market the whole region.

My job is to sit on their strategic panel and keep thumping that table and making sure that the Port Douglas and Daintree area is recognised and gets the marketing bucks spent on it.

It makes it extremely difficult when a big percentage of their funds is going to the Asia/China market. The Asia and China markets haven't matured for us up here yet. We can't even guarantee they're going to.

If it trends the same as the Japanese market did, Cairns will get the dominant share. Our Western markets that we rely on appreciate the fact that Port Douglas is, I guess, a Western destination.   

TN: The MBS identified the reason people come to Port is to relax, yet the region's branding boasts 'Adventurous by nature'. Is that branding missing the mark?

DR: The argument that Tourism Queensland put to us with that branding was that it's not 'adventure' it's 'adventurous.' What is adventurous to some people might be swinging out of a tree, but to another person is going to a tropical location, maybe diving on the reef.

It's not necessarily a physical exertive thing, it's doing something you haven't done before.

It sort of has been taken a bit out of skew with the imagery which has been projected with it. We brand Port Douglas as 'Naturally Paradise'. Our imagery is all about people relaxing.

TN: The key message from the MBS is that our key leaders need to work together. Will TPDD fully commit to helping to implement their recommendations?

DR: I sit on the Steering Committee for MBS group. We're yet to have a meeting on that and discuss the findings. Most of our board (TPDD) haven't seen the results yet, but we'll have a look through and see what's applicable and not.

Over the years at different times there have been a number of different studies done on the tourism industry, on the marketing, on the structure of Port Douglas, whether it should be amalgamated or deamalgamated.

I'm sure there's stuff we can pull out of it that will be extremely useful.

For the first time for the last 18 months we have worked closer with Chamber (Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce), we are working extremely closely with Council, far more than the town and this organisation ever has in the past.

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