Port's revival key discussion at premier’s roundtable


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Emergency funding announced as the Port Douglas Daintree tourism industry continues to be devastated by the QLD border closures.

A recent roundtable discussion with tour operators from two Far North tourism towns could benefit for site-specific funding after a meeting with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The premier singled out Port Douglas and Kuranda who have been hardest hit and said “we’re looking at some measures specifically for them.” The specifics are unknown at this stage.

Tara Bennett, chief executive officer of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree joined tourism colleagues which included the Premier, Deputy Premier, Treasurer and the Far North Queensland state members.

“And at the meeting I detailed the dire state of tourism in the Douglas Shire due to the heavy reliance on tourism for our economy, jobs and community,” she said.

“While I wish the circumstances were different, I’m pleased to see our calls for help have been heard. We are working on what measures will make a real difference to business and the destinations long term viability.

“The greatest aid will be reconnecting our supply chain and letting us get back to doing what we do well, giving visitors extraordinary experiences, although we understand this needs to be at a time that is deemed safe,” she said.

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But there has been a breakdown in communication as Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr was not informed of the roundtable, is unaware of the details and is now seeking information.

But there could be good news for tour boat owners and Cook MP Cynthia Lui was reported saying that Port Douglas tour boat operators would be eligible for grants of up to $20,000 each in relief from Thursday.

According to a News Ltd report, the funds will come from an overall $2m package to offset the cost of private marina berthing fees. It remains to be seen what other specific measures will be announced for Port Douglas, and what lies in store for Kuranda business owners desperately trying to keep their heads above water.

The Kuranda Traders Association, meanwhile, would welcome the opportunity to have a detailed discussion with the Premier as there are several aspects issues in Kuranda including specific support for many businesses many of whom are small owner operators.

“Among these issues are the lack of destination marketing which is now non-existent due to the untimely demise of Tourism Kuranda our local marketing body. We currently have zero funding to professionally market the wonderful aspects of our unique Village in the Rainforest,” said Dei Gould, President of the Kuranda Traders Association

“We have and will continue to have ongoing issues for small businesses to operate effectively due to ongoing labour costs and the decrease/discontinuing of Jobkeeper along with high rents asked of many property owners.

“The lack of international and out-of-state visitors has created a void for many small businesses who are slowly moving towards closing down as they see no end to the lack of income from the tourist dollar and simply cannot afford to continue if we do not have the funding to effectively market our brand and get an increase of visitors,” she said.

For a copy of the marine tourism rebate, go to: www.dsdti.qld.gov.au 

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