50,000 heading our way

Monday 16 January 2012

50,000 heading our way

Up to 50,000 people from across the globe are expected to converge on the region in November to witness the solar eclipse, and plans are underway to maximise the benefit to the tourism industry.

Speaking with The Newsport last Thursday, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD) executive officer, Doug Ryan, says an eclipse task force has been established to deal with the logistics of such numbers, and overseas promotion will commence this week.

"At the moment there has been a task force set up for the Douglas area which includes Council, Chamber, ourselves (TPDD), police and SES from a structural point of view.

"From the promotional point of view we've got our rep who is heading out next week to go overseas and she'll be talking heavily about opportunities to visit the region over that period.

"She'll also talk about some of the issues people will have to be aware of over that time such as availability of accommodation, availability of coach transfers, if people want to book they'll need to get in early.

"That's part of our training program over the next month in UK, Europe, New Zealand and the US."

Mr Ryan said it was important to let people know that accommodation, while in high demand, is still available.

"One of the big issues is the perception that there is no accommodation in town over that period. We're undertaking public relations with TTNQ (Tourism Tropical North Queensland) to let people know that there is availability."

Mr Ryan said TPDD members will be able to list their accommodation availability on the TPDD website in the lead up to the eclipse.

"We'll be running an availability page on our website. It won't be to sell but purely 'do you have availability and what do you have?'"

He said that while the number of visitors will run into the tens of thousands, it is difficult to know precisely how many people will come to witness the astronomical event.

"The number itself is something that's quite questionable. They're talking 50,000 people into the region but those people are going to be spread between Cairns and the Daintree and inland as well.

"We've been trying to come up with a figure for Port Douglas and it's pretty hard to come up with something but probably the realistic figure will be somewhere around the 10,000 people into Port Douglas."

Mr Ryan added that areas such as the Daintree and Cape Tribulation will benefit from the influx of tourists.

"There has been a lot of talk on the eclipse website, this is the astronomers and the guys who are into it, that the best viewing area is up to 40km to 50km either side of the red line (the path in which the eclipse will occur).

"For photography that is the prime spot so that could mean that there might be some dispersal of people into more regional areas."

Around 2,000 people are expected to take part in the Solar Eclipse Marathon which will commence as the sun creeps out from behind the moon.

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