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Fri 24 Oct

Tuesday 3 April 2012

"Shared vision, one voice"

The Port Douglas community must acknowledge, confront, and overcome its challenges if it is to return to prosperity according to the Melbourne Business School who delivered their key findings on their 'Revitalise Port Douglas' project at a meeting on Saturday at the Port Douglas Community Hall after months of research and analysis.

The main message on the lips of the MBS' Associate Professor Selwyn D'Souza, who presented the results of the research at the meeting, was the absolute need for the community and its leaders to unify.

"You don't have a Buckley's chance in hell without a shared vision," he said.

He pointed to a missed opportunity in securing millions in Government funding for the waterfront development as an example of being unable to work together.

"I think we stuffed it (Regional Development Australia Fund funding). All stakeholder groups didn't harness (the opportunity) and co-ordinate."

D'Souza said the town's residents needed to make all of our leaders (not only those in government) more accountable for the results they deliver, drawing on the analogy that if a person working in a company repeatedly underperformed in their job they would lose their position.

The group cited a leadership vacuum in Port Douglas but stopped short in recommending a leadership group to tackle the challenges.

He said a collapse of 20% in regional tourism in 2006 from which the town has not recovered was a root cause of the problems, and added that since then there has not been a co-ordinated response to the decline which he labelled a "downward spiral."

The findings reflected a "loss and dilution" of the town's premium tourism destination status resulting in declining room rates and a change in visitor demographics.

D'Souza said it was important to deliver such a great experience to visitors, including repeat visitors, that they would return even more often.

He told a group of around 60 people who gathered at the meeting to stop hoping for a change in external factors (such as a fall in the Australian Dollar or investment in the Sheraton Mirage) to solve the town's problems.

"People need to face up to the part they play, whether it be positive or negative. Put acid on yourself to deliver.

"I believe this is paradise on Earth. We have to get that heart and soul back," he said.

What the MBS suggest

1. Establish a shared long-term goal
2. Set a target for tourism growth of 5% pa over the next five years ensuring accountability of those charged with meeting those targets
3. Duplicate the success of others
4. Secure "catalytic" investment and obtain the services of experts in securing investment at a government and private level
5. Achieve "alignment of leadership" and create a unified leadership structure
6. Increase service standards ("Overwhelming thing is service levels are terrible" - perceptions found by MBS students)
7. Look at enhancing our commitment to emerging Asian economies
8. Invest in infrastructure that enhances Port Douglas' vision and identity
9. Develop an holistic plan for the tourism industry - who do we want to target?
10. Use the total solar eclipse in November to showcase the region for the future, not just for immediate returns

Who do you think can lead Port Douglas into the future? Have your say below?

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Michael Anderson, , 03-05-12 01:09:
The Chamber of Commerce does the best that they can do, they admit this.

When the best is not enough..... time for a change.

And honestly, did we really need the MBS report to tell us that we need to have a long term goal, and that we need to set 5% increases..... blah blah.

PDCC, thank you for your hours of work you have provided, but maybe the committee members need to assess their abilities.
Glenn Koch, , 02-05-12 23:23:
Good for you Jennie, sticking your hand up like that, offering to work within the Chamber of Commerce. As you will find out it's not an easy road. l'm sure your got some great ideas to talk about, hip hip for Jennie... The shire needs more people like you, willing to speak your mind and work to the benefit of others.. HIP HIP!!!
Jamie , , 02-05-12 10:47:
I do not believe locals are being asked what they would like to patronise in this town. Maybe a new breed of young ideas would take on a smarter and financially progressive growth for the town.
Wendy , , 09-04-12 13:00:
Dear Jennie,

I couldn't agree with you more when you say the Chamber of Commerce has a one eyed view of the town...and that is to put it back on the tourist map!

Every member of that committee is passionate about re-vitalising Port Douglas and doing everything they can possibly think of to unite us as a community with the hope that we can pull ourselves out of this slump instead of just sitting on our bums and waiting for something to magically happen! If you have some suggestions, I'm sure they would be gratefully received.

The Chamber continue to work together non-stop for the betterment of our town and it's revitalization. It's no easy task and it's a thankless one, but the Chamber have given it their best shot by trying to involve the entire community with the MBS program which has been the perfect launching pad to start the ball rolling....and at least it's got everyone talking!

Unfortunatly, try as they may, there always seems to be someone ready to pounce on what they have or haven't done! I notice another person commented on 'closed meetings'....the feedback from the MBS program was an open meeting that was given ample advertisment inviting the entire town to attend, together with 140 personal emails sent out to those who participated. Only 30 or so people turned up....were you there by any chance?

Please, lets not slam the few dedicated people who are trying their damnest to revitalise our town...this is exactly what we don't want to have happen. We're all in this together, so if you're passionate about voicing your opinion, why not do it in a positive way and bring some positive ideas to the table rather than focussing on the negative. Enough already!!!

Oh, and just as a small reminder...the members of the Chamber of Commerce work hundreds of hours unpaid and in their own time.

And what makes me such an expert on all this stuff?.....well...I'm married to one of the Chamber members...and I get to eat, breath and sleep it every day!

Keep up the good work guys (even if I have threatened him with divorce)!
Ken Dobbs, , 09-04-12 10:49:
In response to Jennie - The Chamber of Commerce represents the business interests of Port Douglas. There are 12 committee members across a diverse range of backgrounds and ages. There is no political alignment. If you think it is one eyed join the Chamber and get on the committee. If you are not interested in business join another group. The Chamber initiated the MBS program which received input from a broad range of the community. The report available on the Chamber website concluded the main objective for the town was to achieve a shared vision. This requires people working together in a positive way.
Paula Johnson, , 08-04-12 15:36:
I'm unsure what the PDCC political alignment is other lobbying on behalf of the business community to whichever government body the voters deliver. The PDCC is a business oriented group. It does not have the resources to be all things to all people. There are lobby groups within PD that protect the interests of other areas of the community. Our members are businesses who rely on us to protect their interests. The Chamber has not sought to be the 'one voice' but the Chamber did take the initiative to engage an independent group to explore the possibilities available to enable PD to reach its full potential once again. And sooner, rather than later, to save employment and the businesses that are struggling. Empty shops equals unpaid rates which equals a loss of services. So if business is healthy, so is the community. So it appears we do work with the larger community after all.
Jennie , , 06-04-12 09:23:
I think the Chamber of Commerce is the last group to serve the future of this town's improvements because they have a one-eyed view of the town - only serving to suit themselves as a small group, rather than working with the larger community to share common views. Also its leaders are too politically aligned to be able to make independent judgements about the town's future.
Sarah , , 04-04-12 19:31:
We certainly need a common goal and vision for the town. I've just visited Byron Bay and no matter what your opinion of the place, they clearly have a common image they project, and that is what draws people to the town. I keep hearing from visitors that Port Douglas has lost its personality, its soul. Well lets get together and build a new one. What do we want to project, what makes this place unique and special, what do we love about this place, that we can share with others..?
Dam , , 03-04-12 13:47:
Who do I think can lead the town into the future ? Well...one thing is for certain we need some leadership, as to where they should come from I think the Chamber of Commerce would be best suited for this role. As Selwyn said, we don't need another committee so we have to look at those already existing. A similar role to the 'Advance Cairns'group that Val Schier mentioned makes sense to me.

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