Sustainable development on the rise

Thursday 7 February 2013

Sustainable development on the rise

With its proximity to World Heritage-listed sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, Port Douglas is a town with sustainability on its residents' minds.

As tourist numbers and property rentals picked up in the latter half of 2012, this has led to an increased demand for accommodations.

The Port Douglas Holiday Accommodation houses have indicated that their advanced bookings are currently looking better than they have in the past four years, according to the local Century 21 real estate blog.  

While the outlook is bright for existing property owners who can rent properties with Homesales and other local listings sites, there is also a continual interest in new development.

With many visitors arriving in the region to engage in eco-tourism, and restrictions placed on new developments in order to protect the natural surroundings, it's vital for developers to keep sustainability in mind.
The Rise of Eco-Tourism

Many of Port Douglas's visitors are interested in preserving and participating in the local community during their travels. The eco-tourism market allows visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the destination, while feeling that they have helped protect it.

This has led to tour packages offering unique experiences such as volunteering in local schools, protecting sea turtles at Mapoon, or embarking on restoration projects of the reef and rainforest.

Existing Eco-Friendly Accommodation

Existing sustainable accommodations have already been constructed to meet this eco-tourist demand. One example of this includes Silky Oaks Lodge, which is located 20 minute to the north of Port Douglas next to the Mossman River.

The Lodge was built on cleared farmland that has been restored to its original rainforest environment, and uses its own sewage treatment plant on the premises to provide as little impact on this environment as possible.

Water is sourced from the nearby river, and ingredients for the on-site restaurant are sourced locally.

Another example of existing accommodation is the Thala Beach Lodge, which is built out of sustainable materials and adheres to the same ECO Lodges of Australia codes as Silky Oaks.

Budget travellers are also well catered for with the Port O'Call Hostel, which uses solar heating and energy efficient appliances. This shows that there is an interest in sustainable lodging that is consistent throughout all price ranges.
Sustainable Development Projects

There have been new properties constructed on many of the islands dotted along the coast, including Hamilton Island. These are subject to strict planning regulations.

On Hamilton Island, 70% of the natural vegetation must be preserved. Homes are currently being built with this in mind, preserving natural bushwalks and natural beaches.

The Daintree Sustainable Tourism Gateway is another project that has been in development for the past several years, working to provide more sustainable transportation options to the nearby rainforest.
Eco Villages are also becoming increasingly popular throughout Queensland with tourists and permanent residents alike. These planned communities are built using solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and recycled materials.

There is an existing Eco Village at Mission Beach and Currumbin, with more planned along the Burnett Coast.

As developers look to Port Douglas and surrounding areas of Queensland as potential locations for new projects, it's vital to keep the area's unique habitat in mind.

Eco-tourism is a powerful draw to this region, with many visitors interested in preserving the rainforests and reefs. This has created the need for a balancing act between the demand for development and the need for preservation.