TPDD defends region's tourism plans following think tank


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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The executive officer of the region’s official tourism body has hit back at criticism levelled at the organisation at a recent meeting to discuss the Shire’s economic state.

Tourism Advocate Gerry Ireland made a presentation at the Think Tank meeting held in Mossman on Saturday 3 August where he took aim at the region’s tourism leaders.

In his presentation, he claimed there has been a “lack of leadership” when it comes to tourism in the region.

“The elephant in the room is the lack of tourism growth since tourism drives 80 per cent or more of the Douglas Shire Economy,” he said. 

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“Why does no-one know this, and why is there no Tourism or Douglas Shire Council leadership/ownership of this shocking fact?

“The Douglas Shire Community deserves to know why this has happened, and why there are no Strategic Economic Plans in place to address the recessionary trend”.

During his presentation, Mr Ireland claimed the Douglas Shire did not have a Tourism Strategy Plan or a budget for regional tourism growth.

He stated the growth rate of the Douglas Shire Gross Regional Product of 8.4 per cent was low compared to the 64.9 per cent growth of regional Queensland’s overall Gross Regional Product.

Mr Ireland claimed a change is needed in the tourism leaders of the region to rectify the issues he pointed out during his presentation.

“There is an obvious need for transformational change based around a new Douglas Shire Tourism Leadership Organisation and Team,” he said.

“Driven by relevant Tourism Growth KPI responsibilities, and with transparent accountability”.

However, Tara Bennett, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree’s Executive Officer, said the organisation has a strong strategic direction that benefits tourism in the region.

“Tourism Port Douglas Daintree will continue to work with industry in line with its strategic plan, which has been developed by a highly skilled board made up of tourism professionals,” she said.

“Tourism Port Douglas Daintree’s fundamental role is to provide leadership to the tourism industry.

“We undertake destination marketing for the entire region including providing destination marketing opportunities for the 170 members, representation at international and domestic trade shows, and missions through its ongoing association with Tourism Australia, Tourism Events Queensland and Tourism Tropical North Queensland. “

She said that the figures provided by Mr Ireland do not show the complete picture of the region’s economy concerning tourism.

She did acknowledge many businesses have faced a tough time this year but challenged the assertion circumstances were so dire.

“I would recommend further investigation of the figures presented,” she said.

“While websites such as the Australian Government’s Austrade’s Tourism Research Australia indicate growth for Douglas over the past 10 years to year ending March 2019, we know it’s been a tough start to 2019 with many global and more localised factors affecting numbers.”

A second Think Tank meeting is scheduled for 7 September at the Mossman CWA Hall.

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