Businesses feeling left out of Cairns IRONMAN festivities


Victoria Stone-Meadows


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Cyclists on the Captain Cook Highway which was closed to traffic on Sunday 9 June. Image: Supplied.

Changes to the cycling portion of the 2019 Cairns IRONMAN event have left businesses wanting, according to a number of Port Douglas traders.

The cycling race this year encompassed Old Port Road and a section of Port Douglas Road instead of travelling all the way to Macrossan Street, as done in previous years.

Retail and hospitality businesses say they were worse off for the changes as fewer spectators spent time on the main street.

Renee Abery from Splishsplash Swimwear said sales were down by about half compared to the IRONMAN weekend last year. 

“Our trade over the weekend was 50 per cent down on last year,” she said.

“It is hard when they close the road for the day for tourism but worth it if there are spectators in town to shop and eat. 

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“It was a really disappointing weekend with the lack of tourists around. That's what we found anyway.” 

Some eateries along Macrossan Street also felt the pinch of fewer people venturing into the heart of town to watch the race.

Dave Lowe, owner Dave’s Takeaway, said trade was steady in his shop over the weekend but he was still confused by the changes to the course.

“I don’t know if it made a huge difference to trade but it is a bit disappointing they blocked the main road but didn’t come all the way into town,” he said.

“It was better last year with Macrossan Street closed because gave people a reason to come into town.”

OTZ Café, which was closer to the action of the new course, said they also suffered from the changes.

“It was about half the trade of the previous years; there was no atmosphere, it was terrible,” said co-owner Karen Fines.

“The turn around point was cut off when in previous years we had people all along the street and everyone used to come in, this year we didn’t see a soul.

“It was a silly decision; the race should have the showcased the town but in speaking to people from overseas, they didn’t get to see Port Douglas at all. All they saw was the garages at Craiglie then the racers turned around.

“It’s not just not good for business, there was a lot of missed international exposure.” 

Last month, Ironman Cairns media spokesperson Noel McMahon said the changes are about spectator experience and lessening the impact on the community.

Ironman Australia was approached for comment.

Douglas Chamber of Commerce President Liz Ross was also skeptical the changes to the route were an improvement.

“A lot of people came to town and it has been quite busy, which was great, but not coming down Macrossan Street; I don’t know how that enhanced the experience,” she said.

“Having been down there myself, as opposed to last year, there was no commentating or atmosphere, people in town wouldn’t have known it was even on if it wasn’t advertised.” 


NOTE: Some comment has been retracted from the article at the request of the commenters. 

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