Sunrise from a hammock at Palm Cove. Picture: Tourism Tropical North Queensland
Sunrise from a hammock at Palm Cove. Picture: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

Visitor levy could take Far North to a global audience

TOURISTS to the Far North would be hit with a levy to help attract more visitors to the region under a concept being considered by Cairns Mayor Bob Manning.

Cr Manning said the "modest" levy could be charged per night via accommodation houses and directly flow to Tourism Tropical North Queensland to fund their efforts to promote FNQ both domestically and overseas.

Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning put forward a proposal to fund promotion for the Far North via a tourism levy. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning put forward a proposal to fund promotion for the Far North via a tourism levy. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

Last financial year TTNQ's budget was $8.2 million which consisted of $2 million from Cairns Regional Council, plus State Government grants, just under $1 million from Tourism and Events Queensland and $585,000 in business memberships.

The Gold Coast's 2017/18 budget was $17 million, propped up mostly by a levy charged to businesses and collected by the Gold Coast City Council.

Cr Manning said it would have taken "gumption" to introduce such a tariff and did not want to replicate it here, but believed something needed to change in the Far North.

He said with 2.9 million people visiting the region last year, their contribution would only need to be small to have an impact.

Sunrise from a hammock at Palm Cove. Picture: Tourism Tropical North Queensland
Sunrise from a hammock at Palm Cove. Picture: Tourism Tropical North Queensland

"They (the Gold Coast) made it an unfair playing field and we too could go and build a mechanism into our tourism model where we collect more funds from tourists to promote our area which could probably match what the Gold Coast is getting," he said.

"It's a very sensitive issue, I wouldn't like to treat it lightly, but we need to look at it and make some sense out of it.

"We need to get in there and stoke the furnace a bit."

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) CEO Pip Close. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE
Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) CEO Pip Close. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE

TTNQ chief executive Pip Close said a funding model could potentially ensure the region's future economy remained stable.

She said funding model types, including a tourist levy, would need "careful analysis", looking at what had worked in other destinations.

"Sustainable funding for destination marketing is the only way forward for Tropical North Queensland to attract the attention it deserves in the consumer space," she said.

"Whilst our regional economy is diverse, tourism plays a major part in its economic environment. Therefore TTNQ would support any new funding model that benefits our community.

"Tourism is in an incredibly competitive environment. We simply must have more funds to market our region."

TTNQ asked a selection of members with large and small tourism businesses for their marketing spend and found 15 operators, including hotels, tours and attractions, collectively spent more than $12.9 million a year on selling the destination.

Syrian Billionaire Developer Ghassan Aboud rebuids the Far North - PICS BRIAN CASSEY.
Syrian Billionaire Developer Ghassan Aboud rebuids the Far North - PICS BRIAN CASSEY.

Crystalbrook Collection chief executive, Syrian billionaire Ghassan Aboud, also said last monthboth the local and state government needed to be doing more to attract direct flights, possibly from a Middle East carrier.