Douglas Inc secretary responds to Carey

Monday February 9 2015; 1:45pm

The secretary of Douglas Inc has responded to statements by councillor David Carey as part of the ongoing war of words between Douglas Inc, the Chamber of Commerce and council. 

In her letter, Douglas Inc secretary Sylvia Healy argued that Council had only invested in a ‘one-dimensional’ marketing strategy by focusing on advertising Port Douglas as a tourism destination instead of also improving the town’s facilities. 

Last year Douglas Inc had proposed that council fund them to carry out ‘destination management’ for Port Douglas, but council refused and stated that they would ‘fill that space’. 

Ms Healy said in her letter that she was still waiting for council to follow through on that promise, and said that Douglas Inc’s Free Community Wi-Fi project was an example of destination management. 

Ms Healy’s letter is reproduced below in its entirety:




Dear David,

Ref: Your Letter to Douglas Inc 6th Feb 2015

I feel compelled to respond directly to your response to Douglas Inc and the Chamber of Commerce where you make reference to a conversation I had with you approximately a year ago. This requires some clarification as it may lead some to believe that I do not support the important function of destination marketing and the TPDD. It is also important to note that the views that I expressed in that conversation were my own and not a representative view of Douglas Inc. or the Chamber of Commerce.

As you pointed out in that discussion, Council’s available funds were very limited due to de-amalgamation, even though you believed your projections had been correct and the Council was in a much better financial state than had been originally thought.

The view put to you by me in that discussion was that if funds were in fact going to be limited, that to only invest in a one dimensional strategy (destination marketing) in the absence of an investment in sustainable economic development (including destination management) this would be a poor use of Council’s limited funds and produce a poor return on investment for the region.

At that time Douglas Inc had responded to the Melbourne School of Management report and produced a clear and comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Plan for the region, (prior to the Council launching it’s Economic Development Strategy).

Douglas Inc request for funds to support the implementation of the Economic Development plan was rejected by Council on the basis that it stated that Council would “fill that space”. Douglas Inc accepted that decision and felt heartened that in fact this would allow an appropriate allocation of resources to both destination marketing and destination management and a more holistic approach to sustainable economic development.

We now hold Council accountable to deliver on their promise to “fill that space”.

 I maintain my view that a focus on destination marketing alone is a one dimensional approach with very limited impact if not conducted in conjunction with a comprehensive destination management strategy. I am yet to be convinced that Council has delivered in this area and we as a community will continue to receive limited return on investment for money directed to destination marketing unless supported by at least an equal contribution to destination management. There is no point spending money to get people to come to the region if there is nothing to see or do and facilities and infrastructure are substandard. Douglas Inc’s free Wifi project with the support of Bendigo Bank is an attempt to address some of these issues.

I note with interest your reference to social, environment and economic development as if they are three separate areas to address. In my view social and environmental issues can only be effectively managed in the context of a sustainable economic development strategy. Attempting to address these issues in isolation is misguided.

I would also like to take the opportunity to respond to comments made in the letter received from Mayor Julie Leu and your support of the content of that letter. A list of community engagement initiatives was provided as examples of Council’s track record in the area of community engagement. I have personally been involved in two of those initiatives:-

1) the Pt Douglas Outriggers Club relocation

2) the Little Reef / Langley Road barricade.

In regard to the Outriggers Club relocation - engagement with the residents in the Solander area only began after significant complaints from local residents when the proposal to move the Club to the Port Douglas Sailing Club in Solander came to their attention.

In regard to the Little Reef / Langley Rd barricade - I received a letter from Council requesting my views on the barricade being removed. I provided a very detailed and balanced letter of the pros and cons of the proposal and have had no contact from Council since.

There has been very little if any direct engagement with Douglas Inc by the Council, other than that initiated by Douglas Inc.

Community engagement and consultation is more than asking for a view and then Council making a decision. Genuine consultation involves a two way dialogue. I understand that consensus cannot always be achieved and that Council have been elected to make decisions. However, in the absence of a genuine two way dialogue with business, groups such as Douglas Inc, and the community, Council runs the risk of getting it wrong.

I am hopeful that you and your colleagues keep your lines of communication open to the constituents you represent and ensure that those conversations held in good faith are treated with respect.

Kind Regards

Sylvia Healy


Douglas Inc