Record year for Port's tourism industry

Wednesday January 8th 2014

Record year for Port's tourism industry

Port Douglas ended 2013 as the one of the best years on record for the tourism industry, with forward bookings for this year promising a positive start.

Doug Ryan, executive officer of Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree, said enquiry was at an all-time high over the Christmas period for accommodation in Port Douglas, with a steady influx of visitors from Boxing Day onwards.

Shane Branch, director of Hibiscus Resort and Spa, said accommodation at the boutique resort was sitting at 90% in January, which was a strong start to the year. 

“We are holding over 2000 bookings already and Europe and North America are surging back into the market.”

He said he has had more than a dozen site inspections from wholesales that sell Australia, which was also a strong sign of confidence in the market.

“We haven’t seen wholesales in Port for five years,” he said. “Domestic visitors are up, but it is the return of our international markets that is key.”

He said the Northern Hemisphere made up around 38 per cent of Hibiscus Resort and Spa’s occupancy pre-GFC.

Mr Ryan said this was a trend showing across Port Douglas, which was further backed up by research undertaken by the International Visitors Survey.

The survey, released by Tourism Research Australia in September, found domestic nights increased by 15 per cent from 1,493,000 in 2012 to 1,723,000 in 2013, while international visitors nights rose by 49% from 396,000 in 2012 to 590,000 in 2013.

Sheryn Blundstone, owner of Peninsula Boutique Hotel, said she also had strong forward bookings for this year.

“The bookings are remaining very strong to the middle of January, but there also seems to be an increase in demand for the end of January, which is reflective of the people coming away for the Australia Day weekend.

She said February and March will also be better than 2013, with an increase in international bookings.

“Typically the international market takes over from the domestic market as we move into the low season, and we are definitely seeing an increase in enquiry for this period.”