Gloomy picture once JobKeeper ends


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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A gloomy future has been predicted for our Cairns neighbours but will Port Douglas fare the same? Image: Newsport.
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A gloomy future has been predicted for our Cairns neighbours with the expectation it will be a ghost town, at best a retirement village, post JobKeeper.

Writing in The New Daily, respected financial journalist Alan Kohler, said Cairns has already started giving staff their notice in preparation for the termination of JobKeeper, and when the axe actually falls, the whole town will basically close.

He added that international tourism – Cairns’ only industry – had fallen 99 per cent, by government decree.

Would it then be appropriate to predict as dismal a picture for Port Douglas, which generates the most revenue in the shire?

The region’s tourism body, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD) said the article is not indicative of the Port Douglas and Daintree region.

“Pre-COVID, our visitor market was 65% domestic and 35% international. So while numbers are down, it’s the businesses more reliant on international travellers that are feeling the greater impact.

“Our forward bookings from June are strong while Easter is already sitting at 71% occupancy.

“For the current period, 60% of accommodation report being the same or better than last year though this is of a low base being one of our quietest times,” said TPDD CEO Tara Bennett.

According to Douglas Shire Council, in 2018/19 the total tourism and hospitality sales in Douglas Shire Council was $549.3m, the total value added was $265.0 million.

Douglas Shire Council's Gross Regional Product is estimated at $0.73 billion, which represents 0.2% of the state's Gross State Product (GSP). Gross State Product is a measurement of a state's output; it is the sum of value added from all industries in the state.

Kohler says the question is not really whether to save Cairns and other places that rely on international tourism – of course they must be saved – but how to do it right.

“The problem is that for them this is neither a short-term nor permanent closure; it’s something in between.”

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