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Tuesday 6 December 2011

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Work starts on revitalising Port Douglas

Port Douglas
Port Douglas has come under the microscope of the highly regarded Melbourne Business School.

Port Douglas is now under the microscope.

Melbourne Business School graduate students have begun their lengthy and detailed consultancy process which aims to deliver an action plan that, if implemented, will deliver an economic resurgence in Port Douglas.

The Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce was offered the services of the Melbourne Business School as part of the student's studies, which would ordinarily carry a fee well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if sought privately.

"The MBS program (involves) students from Melbourne University. They're 25, 30 years of age and doing their MBA (Master of Business Administration)," Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce committee member, Doug Calvert said.

"This will be the key project that they will be working on and the work that they do will probably determine who employs them. The top firms will look at their work so there are real incentives (to do well).

An initial meeting was held on Friday involving key stakeholders including representative of Chamber, Council, Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree, and small business. 

"We started out by getting people to talk about their vision of the next five years, where they see Port Douglas, where they would like to see Port Douglas in the next five years," Mr Calvert said.

"Everyone agrees we need to do something."

The consultancy process will be overseen by Selwyn D'Souza and Professor John Onto; the latter an occasional resident in Port Douglas.

Mr Calvert said by the first week of February the group will identify around six vital projects, with a team of students working on each who will have assistance from MBS and local mentors.

"They will be engaging with the community, they'll be interviewing, they'll be talking, they'll be seeing it for themselves so it's very much an independent set of eyes."

Mr Calvert admitted that one of the major challenges to the success of the program is ensuring all areas of the community work together during the process, and implement the recommendations of the MBS students.

"As was pointed out today there is a lot of good work that's done by consultants that doesn't get implemented because there isn't the buy in or the desire to get the job done.

"That's not what this one is all about. It's all about making sure there's enough passion. We've got to sign off on everything.

"The problem is there is so much which can be done and it's a question of how they use the resources of 30 highly intellectual, strategic students and consultants to get the right outcome."

Mr Calvert said that the MBS personnel are skilled at dealing with conflicts that may arise during the project.

"These guys are brilliant at trying to get past that stuff. They've handled these situations before.

"Everyone seems to be on board, everyone is receptive. Whether everyone ends up being able to work together will be interesting."

Preliminary feedback from initial work is due at the end of February, while the final report is due in May.
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Michael Gibbs, , 10-12-11 15:15:
Hi, great comments by Trevor. I am a musician who lives in Cairns and appreciates culture. I believe a show similar to the dancers from the Rainforest Station (up off the Hwy near Kuranda) would be brilliant marketing tool to welcome the visitors from overseas. Perhaps we could set up a small stage or 'set' or 'scene' at the airport with a small selection of native plants and props and have a group of similar talent to the Rainforest Station dancers (they are amazing! and funny) play for the international arrivals (and of course if funds permit, domestic arrivals also. I definitely agree that we need to capitalise on the new eco-tourism and that includes native aboriginals in the habbit. I also think people want culture. Mirvac, Accor and Mantra hotels can only provide so much culture, we need dancers / twirling / greeting / smiles. That would certainly put this place on the map as a unique Australian experience. To summarise - if anyone is reading this and wants to start a movement in this direction, consult with the Rainforest station for who does the artistic direction for thier showcase, as they have struck a very entertaining chord. My most memorable moments living in Cairns are when we have had Aboriginals and Islanders from the area playing thier shows on the Esplanade, amongst markets, smiling tourists and fire twirling hippies, set amongst a balmy backdrop - it's memorable because you can't get it anywhere else in Australia, it's something money can't buy.
Caroline Bloomfield, , 10-12-11 07:05:
It will be interesting to see at least what young fresh innovative eyes come up with at the very least - I have found though an attitude up in Port is also part of the problem - on a few visits up there I have encountered on many occasions the attitude of we who live here and own Port Douglas versus those painful Tourists ! I do understand some of the issues when living in such an area, I have problems getting a loaf of bread at the local supermarket where I live in summer but at the end of the day, no tourists no job - and in fact we are only custodians of where we live - I think we have to change the thought pattern of some people and realise how lucky we are to live in such beautiful areas ! Port Douglas is not just a destination for Australians to holiday but a major spot in Australia to showcase to our international guests - thats right guests (not just tourists) ! The way we interact and treat them have a huge impact on wether they have a memorable holiday and want to come back. Its called the ripple effect ! I cannot tell you what happy memories I have holidaying at Mission Beach with my young family years ago and one couple who was part of that community and owned a small restaurant called FRIENDS helped make some of those memories. Roz was so generous in spirit and hospitality - something that you cannot get from just putting more structures in place ! Perhaps some training workshops on how to be great hosts might be something also to put in place!
Trevor Hauff, , 08-12-11 15:33:
I agree any help is welcomed, but student's doing an MBS are they really going to add any real commercial advice?.The X generation were bad enough the Y generation well we all have had the experience some good some not so good, unless they have actually run a business, the advice is likely to be way out and not really worth anything. What Port and North Qld in general needs is good tourist leaders with imagination. Hawaii is a great example of what we should be doing up north and Port Douglas in particular.The great example of Hawaii is that it has similar features and attractions, but most of their attractions are self made ie they have through advertising built up a dream for people living in cold north America.They developed their own drink (or should I say drinks)the Mai Tai is my favourite but the other tropical drinks are great .Where are our drinks for the tourists ?? The have a great greeting tradition taken from the local natives and the Lai is a great tourist attraction.Where is ours?? We have more colourful native traditions and yet we do not exploit them? Where is our native greeting ceremony?We have this great resource and attraction our native aborigines and yet we do not utilize them.The Hawaiians have the luau a native feast ceremony, where is ours??? The Hawaiians have restuarants on the beach where are our restaurants on the beach? no doubt the short sited Council and Greenies have outlawed them. Come on Port Douglas and North Qld you have the greatest tourist assets in the world and yet they are not being utilised.The great weather a refuge for the rest of Australia during the winter, but what percentage do we get from Melbourne Hobart Adelaide and Sydney? not much, where is the dream we need to sell, St Moritz does a roaring trade from visiting northern Europeans during the winter,as does Miama, why don't we have the same patronage?? We have one of the worlds greatests wonders the Great Barrier Reef and yet most of the conversation is by greenies who worry about climate change, not the beauty of it why havn't we sold the beauty of that great wonder, we have small displays but not the image.Government restrictions on going near the reef or concern about the reef dominate the space when the dream should be sold,not the concerns.We have great fishing and some of the best marlin fishing in the world, by where is it being sold where is the dream?? We have the great rainforrests in the Daintree but all we hear about are the greenies and their concerns and the restrictions on use by tourists Do we have electricity up there yet and where is the bridge and where are the attractions. the Sky Rail is great tourist attraction ,why havn't we got one in the Daintree, once again the greenies and Council State and Federal regulations dominate the space.People particularly tourists come here to see the wonders, the dream, but it is cluttered with concerns about climate change etc the space should be about it's beauty and what the world is missing out on.Where is that majesty being sold where is the image the dream.
The really great travesty is that we have not created the dream on visiting Port Douglas and surrounds we don't have a television show like Hawaii 50 to showcase the area why not ?? We don't take advantage of the movies that are made up here and use them to promote the area.We have had a number of movies made up here in the past 20 years but what publicity did we get out of it, virtually nothing.I had Peter Fonda stay in one of my unit for a few weeks, no one knew he was in town was that to protect his privacy? Definately not when asked he simply said he had not been approached.We have the President of the United States here a a few occasions ,Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg with little fanfare and little coverage.I sat beside Lou Reed ( remember The Velvet Underground)recently in the Coffee shop and yet know one knew he was in town. We need a promotional tourist body to co-ordinate those events to get some publicity and help sell the dream.We do not have to invade their privacy of if the celebrities don't care for it ,but not to at least ask is a lost opportunity.We need to create a dream to the rest of Australia and the world, but alas we do not appear to to have the will or the motivation why not?? and the greatest tragegy is that we do not utilize one of our greatest assets, the aboriginal people and their wonderful ceremonies and colouful rites dances etc which have not been utilised to our detriment and theirs.In Hawaii the local hotels have waiting lists and huge crowds for their Hawaiian Luau ceremonies whay not so here? I am appalled by the lack of promotion of our really great resources, unlike Hawaii who utilise every bit of their resources and attractions. I would like to add to our list of attractions the outback areas and such as Emu and Kangaroo Koala bears Wombats Wallybies etc and Rodeos wonderful animals not seen by most of the rest of the worls and the great array of fish etc etc etc.It's not that we don't have a wonderful product, we simply lack the imagination and will to get it done.
Frank Frikker, , 08-12-11 12:12:
Well I guess any help is welcome now. However, this reminds me on my time in the chemical industry and the consulting companies going in and out. Internal expertise was hardly considered. Young business school graduate from McKenzie came to tell the old, experienced plant managers etc. what to do. Of course these consultants never ran a business of their own. And of course, they had to come again several years later to clean up the mess they started. I believe we have heaps of knowledge and experience in town. Our problem is that people, businesses, industries don't really work together. Some don't like to ask for help, others don't like to pay for help. I was sent to a business school,was in charge of a business unit in Asia and now I am a small business owner in a tourist destination. I know there are other experienced people as well. Offering help in the past was a waste of time. Not even the chamber of commerce looked at it seriously. The present problems of this town are quite obvious, there reasons are too. As well are some of the solutions.
So let's hope the cooperation between local businesses and the Melbourne business school works out well and that we all benefit.
Brandi S, , 06-12-11 13:22:
I've just inquired to Australia Post about adding a post box in Port Village Square or even possibly relocating there. Just one of the inconveniences of our little town. A major hub on a very steep hill? Who thought of that?

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