CQUniversity Australia

With Dudgeon Point project, Mackay not dragging chain on tourism 

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Tourism in the Mackay region is in a wide-ranging transition period, claims a leading CQUniversity tourism expert.

Steve Noakes, Senior Lecturer in Tourism says that the Mackay region is "well down the road of transiting from traditional old world holiday based tourism to a new era of business and special events tourism".

PhotoID:12401, Steve Noakes
Steve Noakes
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"And this is all within the context of the new Asian century driving international tourism demand into Australia," he added.

Mr Noakes said that tourism is a multi-faceted industry drawing upon services offered by a range of providers in the accommodation, attractions, activities, transportation, construction, entertainment, retail and other service sectors.

"It remains the largest service export sector, worth $34 billion to GDP or 10% of export earnings and directly employs half a-million Australians. By contrast, the car industry employs about 60,000 people."

A big regional influence on the transition of the local tourism sector is the mining industry.

On top of an already buoyant Mackay region mining/resources sector industry, the multi-billion-dollar Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal Project will bring substantial economic and employment benefits to the Mackay region, the State of Queensland and the nation as a whole.

From the tourism and hospitality industry sector viewpoint:

The upsides Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal Project will bring include:

  • Accommodation: Increased spending on commercial accommodation, increased rates and revenue/profits for hotel owners/operators.
  • Hospitality sector: Increased job opportunities directly within accommodation and food and beverage sectors and within businesses who service those sectors (e.g. catering, laundries, food suppliers etc).
  • Transport: Extra demand on vehicle hire operations, more revenue generated for the airport owner/operators in the region.
  • Meeting, Convention & Exhibition facilities - more potential for use of such infrastructure and service providers by companies, industry and government organisations conducting conferences/meetings/exhibitions in Mackay region.
  • Infrastructure: Improved infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications and marine navigation facilities.

The downsides will include:

  • Pressure on commercial accommodation availability for tourists to book for overnights.
  • Fewer tourists available to purchase short duration excursions - putting pressure on existing small tourist operators and discouraging new entrants to invest in expanding the variety of local tour options to spread local visitor dollars and develop new local tourism destinations and attractions.
  • Difficulties for owners of some resorts outside key population centres to justify the investment to continuously enhance their products in a competitive marketplace - easier to close the doors (e.g. Laguna Whitsundays and island resorts)
  • Difficulty in attracting and retaining tourism and hospitality staff due to sectoral shifts in labour into higher paying resource sector jobs.
  • Cost of living increases for tourism and hospitality workers - especially with housing.
  • The regional reputation/brand being dominated by the resource sector - there is a shift to city-based tourism experiences especially from major growth markets such as China.
  • More coal ships within the Great Barrier Reef marine Park zone - a major tourist attraction for Australia

Mr Noakes said that the Dudgeon Point Coal Terminal project will add to the challenges leisure-based tourism operators have to accommodate to survive in business.

"However, new opportunities will arise for such businesses who can adapt to the needs of travel and visitor experiences induced by increased attendance in conventions, meetings, exhibitions and major sporting, social and cultural events held within the Mackay region."