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Friday 8 June 2012

The Viewpoint - An eventful future

The Hanging Rock Harvest Festival in Victoria attracts thousands of people every year. Imagine this scene in Rex Smeal Park on a sunny October day.

Is it time for the reef and the rainforest to take a rest from their duties as the number one and number two attractions in the region?

For a generation they've been marketed to within an inch of their lives, and we as a community have been reliant on these natural wonders to support our economy.

But with the well-publicised battle to attract tourists against cheaper alternative locations, a battle that is becoming increasing difficult to win, is it time we committed to an alternative strategy?

For what it's worth, I believe events are the answer.

While holding events to draw visitors is not a new concept, I don't think we offer anywhere near enough.

Carnivale is our major festival where we attempt to cram as many events as possible over a 10-day period. The Cairns Adventure Festival has some flow on benefits to the region, but is on at virtually the same time as Carnivale.

The Great Barrier Reef Marathon, run for the first time last year, created another reason to come to Port Douglas, and being held in November it delivered hundreds of runners and hundreds more spectators that would not normally have been here.

The atmosphere of the family Beach Day a couple of weekends ago could easily be replicated half a dozen more times throughout the year. The beach was busy (and naturally beautiful), and The Esplanade was thriving, giving it the feel that an esplanade should.

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Towns around the world become known for their markets, and Port Douglas' Sunday Market has a fantastic, marketable reputation. Why couldn't we run them at night, and even throughout the week? Tourists don't care if it's a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday - every day is a Sunday to them.

Perhaps close of Macrossan Street or The Esplanade to cars and let the people roam free.

Let's get a high-stakes poker tournament happening at the Sheraton. Let's get a computer game tournament happening at Sea Temple, let's get Sexpo at the Community Centre.

My point is, if you create a reason for people to be in town, it not only makes marketing easier (knowing specifically who to target) and measuring results of your marketing easier, we can show off our other outstanding attributes such as the reef and rainforest as an added bonus - not the primary reason to be here.

I feel myself stating the obvious here, and no doubt I'll be told this by a willing reader below. But I don't see it happening often enough.

Of course, we need to look at our current infrastructure to see what events we can deliver successfully. But we also need to look at infrastructure funding to enable us to become an events capital.

Perhaps the new Economic Development Group will be able to source this funding once it is established.

There is no reason that we couldn't hold a major event of some description every month, or even every fortnight. 26 unique events, 26 opportunities to bring thousands of people to the region.

Do you agree? What events would you like to see in the Douglas region?

Have your say!

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Robert Brown, Port Douglas, 08-06-12 22:22:
Mate you are talking my language, just another step in the right direction

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