Tourism performance comparison challenged


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

Email Howard
Last updated:

The Douglas Shire’s tourism body, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD), is at odds with a Tourism Performance Comparison, which says the shire’s growth in overnight international and domestic tourist visitors showed growth of only 10.9% over the past five years.

The report, prepared by Tourism Advocate Gerry Ireland, says this demonstrates a much slower growth rate than every other region in FNQ, as well as Noosa and Byron Shires.

“Given that the Douglas Shire economy is 77% tourism-dependent – more than three times the dependence of the other 13 Councils in FNQROC (Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC), and Cairns, and more than double the dependence rate of Noosa and Byron Shires – you would think as the ‘jewel in the crown of FNQ Tourism’ we could do a lot better,” says Ireland, who produced the following table:

Source: DSC and Other Regional Council websites per below:  

But, says TPDD Chief Executive Officer Tara Bennett, once again, the figures presented by this group from Tourism Research Australia (TRA) have been hand-picked to paint a very negative comparison for the Douglas Shire.

“They also demonstrate how numbers can be manipulated to serve the purpose of a specific point of view.

“The following table shows the average change over eight years from 2011/12 to 2018/19 as per the full range available of TRA figures that have been used,” says Ms Bennett. 

Ms Bennett said the visitation figures provided by Tourism Research Australia are a guide only; the small sample size used means TPDD uses them with extreme caution.

“TPDD represents the Douglas tourism industry and monitors visitation via surveying of operators as well as use of the TRA figures,” she said.

“Frankly,” Ireland said, “I’m not even sure that TPDD, TTNQ (Tourism Tropical North Queensland) and Douglas Shire Council leadership are even aware of the dire state of the shire’s economy and tourism.

“Given the performance, surely the shire’s community is entitled to know what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what strategies are in place to recover and grow.”

Ireland said the time for a transformational leadership change is urgently needed, with new thinking based around a sound understanding of the negative growth facts of the past five years.

“I am calling for the preparation of a DS Integrated Recovery and Growth Plan, which then needs to be implemented quickly. Our DS economy position continues to move from untenable to unsustainable.”

Ms Bennett said her organisation has acknowledged many times this year how challenging visitation has been due to weather, global factors and aviation, as well as Queensland seeing an overall decline in market share.

“This situation is well understood not only by TPDD and TTNQ, but our industry partners at Tourism Events Queensland and Tourism Australia who have recently been in the region,” she said.

“TPDD continues to be strategic in its forward plans with a clear focus on six core pillars to strengthen tourism in the Douglas region.

“These pillars were formulated by a highly skilled group of tourism professionals and have been shared with the TPDD membership, Douglas Shire Council, TTNQ and the Douglas Chamber of Commerce. This allows us to accurately capture the success of the campaigns that support these pillars in a transparent and measured way.

“The TPDD annual marketing plan is also developed through extensive consultation with the local industry, regional, state and national tourism bodies as well as leading research to ensure a targeted use of resources. We will continue to look forward and remain committed to getting on with tackling the challenging tourism environment,” said Ms Bennett.

Have an opinion or point of view on one of our stories or a community issue? Please submit a Letter to the Editor here.

* Readers are encouraged to use their full details to ensure letter legitimacy. Letters are the opinions of readers and do not represent the views of Newsport or its staff. Letters containing unlawful, obscene, defamatory, personal or abusive material will not be published.

Got a great news tip or video? We'd love to see it. Send news tips to

Comments are the opinions of readers and do not represent the views of Newsport or its staff.
Reader comments on this site are moderated before publication to promote valuable, civil, and healthy community debate. Our moderation takes into consideration these guidelines and rules before comments are approved for publication.