Port a gem and will return to former glory


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Mayor Michael Kerr is confident the region can bounce back if we put in the hard yards now.

One of the biggest questions being asked and discussed among locals is whether Port Douglas can turn itself around once the pandemic is over and return to being a popular tourist destination and a sought-after property market.

If anyone is convinced this can be the case, it is the shire’s Mayor Michael Kerr.

“I have never thought otherwise. We have an absolute gem sitting here. We just need to do the hard yards to ensure it becomes better and concentrate on making sure we have here what the tourists of 2021 and beyond want.

“That will be the key to our survival, not just marketing, but being able to market products that the tourists of tomorrow really want. Let’s face it; look around, who wouldn't want to live here?”

But Kerr also concedes that the Queensland Government's decision not to open the border has been a major talking point. 

“Absolutely it has been a major talking point. Not having a realistic date available so airlines, hotels and other tourism businesses can start planning is just so detrimental to all the other businesses in our region and the many other tourism locations.

“I can absolutely understand what the concern is and that no one wants a second wave far bigger, but it also needs to be looked at realistically and mental health through extreme debt and loss of businesses can potentially see an uprise in the suicide rates which are already far higher than Covid-19 and receiving nowhere near the attention,” he says.

Kerr is fearful of when the region will see the return of tourism.

“Other than New Zealand, I fear it could be at least a year before we see international tourists again and the uptake in domestic tourism could well be stifled dependent on the financial implications of those in the southern areas that frequent this region.

“I also have reservations on where we sit in the domestic market and unless we start developing infrastructure tourists are looking for, we will become a place where tourists used to visit,” he said.

Kerr is cognisant of what he and Council can do and like anyone in his position, would like to do a lot more.  

“We are very much at the whim of the state government as far as gaining our domestic tourism back. As a Council we have to look at the immediate area and what we can do to make sure once it does start happening; that our businesses are still here and ready to operate to their best ability.”

Kerr said he was advising businesses as best he could in these challenging times.

“It is very much a case of hang in there. Everyone is in the same boat. I think it's also important that our businesses are all familiar to what assistance is out there for them.

“The lists change and grow regularly so it’s important that businesses stay in contact with industry groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and TPDD to ensure that they have the latest information in what is available to support our businesses,” said Kerr.

Kerr said the overall reaction to Buy Douglas Build Douglas has been extremely positive and well received.

“There has been a lot of great feedback in regard to the program and we have had amazing buy-in from the local businesses. This positive feedback includes the proactive work being undertaken by Council.” 

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