The TTNQ Board met recently in Kuranda, one of the three meetings a year held outside Cairns. We also caught up with tourism industry representatives including members of Tropical Tablelands Tourism at a networking event in the evening.
Our Cairns gateway is the funnel through which the majority of visitors arrive, however, it is the exploration of our uniquely tropical rainforests, reef, wildlife, food and indigenous cultures that exposes visitors to our regional character.
While the Tropical North has been pumping with largely domestic travellers over the past few weeks, there was a clear acknowledgement that the challenge of domestic air with relatively high prices and constrained capacity will continue for the foreseeable future. Our traditional international markets of North America and Europe, as well as the majority of Chinese visitors, continue to feed mostly through these domestic routes to Cairns, further building on domestic demand.
Our domestic carriers are yield focused. Qantas recently posted its highest ever first half profit, largely driven by “ongoing capacity discipline and growing margins”.
Given that two-thirds of our visitors are Australian, the region will need to think about its marketing with this in mind. There are excellent opportunities in the drive market – well beyond the grey nomads that were once the mainstay of this market. Families, couples, and international travellers are all ready to explore, and many are looking for uniquely tropical nature that is far from the ‘madding crowd’. High-value travellers will continue to fly north if our offering is compelling with benefits that override cost. Building our diverse international markets is another key strategy to a resilient tourism economy.
We recognise that the current status of the Great Barrier Reef is not being communicated well and “the reef is dead” headlines still taint global perceptions. The reef’s size, biodiversity and patchy nature is key to its long standing natural resilience. While we should be very proud of the by science and management agencies locally, this underlying story of how much the Reef is regenerating on its own, remains largely untold. It was good to hear Reef and Rainforest Research Centre’s comments last week that confirmed that the Reef’s patchy nature meant that considerable areas did not bleach and continue to flourish. Sites in the Cairns and Port Douglas areas are showing good evidence of damaged areas in deeper water recovering well during this milder year.
It is key that a broader perspective, including optimism and inspiration, is in parallel to communicating the best practice science and management initiatives that are being undertaken and to ensure that tourism’s role in sharing the reef with the world, as well as being custodians and educators, is supported with accurate reef health messaging.
The Board also discussed the increasing presence and media around crocodiles in areas frequented by visitors and locals. We recognise that this is a contentious issue but the Board has a responsibility to both the industry and to our visitors. As with the decision to close the Visitor Centre, we will not have 100% support on all decisions the Board makes. The current Queensland zoning plan that underpins response to crocodile activity is considered reactive rather than being a realistic, considered plan of management. We would welcome working with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Traditional Owners to review current crocodile management and put in place a sustainable, balanced plan. We will advocate for this at the Parliamentary Hearing into the Safer Waterways Bill on August 27. View the TTNQ board’s position paper here.
Minor amendments to update and modernise TTNQ’s Constitution have been made and will be put to members for approval at the Annual General Meeting on October 12. The call for nominations to elected positions on the TTNQ board was emailed to members yesterday. If members interested in nominating would like to understand what is entailed in being a board director, view more information here. You are also welcome to email Wendy Morris. Following the AGM with be our TNQ Industry Excellence Awards celebration evening. We will continue our popular format of stand-up drinks and canapés at this event.
If you’re keen to know more about the opportunities to get more involved or know more, be sure get in touch with Pip and the Team.