Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Today's crap Cairns Post headline

Oh, let's get a few things straight.
We haven't lost 1600 jobs.
We haven't lost $130 mill.
These type of headlines are what you'd expect in the UK's Sun or News of the World.
It's only one step away from "I got eaten by an alien".
This is hardly responsible journalism by the Cairns Post.
We all know that the tourism business needs a bomb under it. It needs one every year. It's a type of business that continues to evolve, change and needs a different 'call to action' almost every season.
But the reality is far different from this deliberately shocking and misleading headline.
The problem with the reaction to the recent announcement by Qantas to cease some Japan - Cairns flights, and part replace them with Jetsar, is that the local industry was left with it's pants down.
As Tourism Tropical North Queensland's Rob Giason says, the challenge is to grow new emerging markets like China. He says that there's been about a 72% growth of Chinese visitors to Australia over the last 12 months.
However we all know that the Japanese visitor loves to spend up big here. That's why we love em, I guess. They come all the way around the world, all the way to Cairns, to buy Made in China Koalas at the Night Markets. If only they opened their eyes.
Richie Bates, who ran for Division 5 in the recent Council election, asked in the Post letters during the week, that after at least eight official trade missions to mainland China, the former Mayor didn't return with many bookings.
The local tourism market has to be flexible. It also needs to take a good hard look at the product it's selling - Cairns. Much is becoming past it's Best By date. The town is grubby. The prices are way over the top. There's hardly a place for a corner pub priced meal. You used to be able to go to the Cock and Bull in Grafton Street for a $8 feed. No more.
The Yorkeys Knob Boat Club used to offer 'working men's club' prices, but it's full of wanky restaurant prices now, and most stay away. There's hardly a main under $20-25.
The same story is repeated on the Cairns Esplanade.
I was talking to Peter Thorpe, who sees first hand foreign arrivals into Cairns. "Some of the planes coming from Japan are only quarter full. You have to ask why they aren't coming here anymore."
He believes visitors perceive that Cairns is not value for money anymore. "Cairns is now an expensive destination. The mining boom and the dollar going up, maintains this as an expensive place to visit."
My mate Bob Stranger, who runs Touring Cairns, his own independent rainforest tour, also sees problems first-hand. "Tour booking agents take a whopping commission," he says. "The operator ends up with less and less. Some can take up to 30 - 40% as a 'booking fee'," he says.
Many also fail to pay the operator for weeks or months. This problem is well-known to TTNQ, but everytime the issue is raised, they are loathe to get involved or introduce a voluntary regulation or set guidelines for the members of our local tourism body.
It's a serious issue and affects everyone. The prices of visiting the attractions goes up. Less book. Less want to come here. Especially when tours are packaged with airfares, it all becomes easier to choose a different destination.
SO you see, there's a lot to get sorted out first. It's all very well bringing tourists here, but what's the return rate. What do they tell others when they return home?
The Qantas chief hinted that there was a reason why Japanese passengers were not coming to Cairns in the numbers they used to. Maybe we need to ask ourselves that same question. Or simply rename it the Great Barrier Grief.
I think it's time to get our own house in order first.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The greed starts at the top and trickles down, from big operators like Qantas who expect rooms reserved for them regardless of whether they get used or not, causing hoteliers to up their other prices to cover the empties, to the Landlords demanding joke rents because the dilapidated building is near or on the Esplanade, to Councils who gouge for fees for the slightest thing such as a restaurateur putting some tables and chairs on a pavement his rates have already paid for.

Bungyone said...

Right on Michael and Anonymous.When Hayles first took his glass bottom boat to Green Island and entrepreneurs saw the “free” natural wonders of the jungle and the reef as a way to rip money from people, the die was cast for the rot to set in. The ante has been going up and we now have a Tourism infrastructure and a Government who see it as a means to gouge more and more loot for their coffers. None of which adds any value to the rain forest or reef experience and certainly nothing for the, long suffering, real Cairns residents who have to pay for the infrastructure through ever increasing rates. A million tourists per annum use our sewerage system, they use our water supply, and wear out our roads, keep us awake at night with the thundering jets, while the carpetbaggers blot our views of the once pristine Trinity Inlet, tear out chunks of False Cape, leave their mess and giant shadows behind when they go with their money or belly up with bankruptcy. The burning question is, have we benefited from all this or do we just have to keep paying?

sunfish said...

thank god I say. I really hate the way this town has been heading . Cairns business community is similar to a cargo cult in New Guinea . Except probably the NG people are nicer because they wouldn't be so smug and self righteous when their plan appears to be working.
If you ask me the beginning of the end for cairns was when they extended runway to allow jets .
Cairns was once a unique destination properly managed it could have changed but remained as such . Now as far as the industry is concerned which only can think volume, it is just a cheap destination for backpackers and novelty for Japanese but hey it is neither now and guess what the planes don't come as much any more !
Durrrrr I wonder why . coz there isn't anything to unique about the place anymore and what was unique , or own architectual style , the reef and rainforest , is gone or going and further more the tourist industry hasn't even come to terms with the fact that it needs to get people here in a sustainable or at least low carbon manner . Why is the most carbon friendly form of travel up the east coast the most expensive ? i.e. trains. What is the tourist industry doing to correct that? I don't hear anything.In the medium and long term and at present the short the writing is on the wall for plane travel . but all we get is whingeing when business men based elsewhere make sound business decisions . Live by the sword die by the sword . If you are competing against other destinations by being cheaper and or more unique well you just have to accept the fact that you can't compete anymore when for whatever reasons (which basically have always been out of your control even when you perceived they were) they are cheaper or can offer a more novel or genuine experience elsewhere .
Or why at all do we have to appeal to the bottom end of the market ? Which all it does is create so many fringe problems for so little gain. Please tell me why next time i am walking past an english backpacker pissing in the street . why couldn't we have more expensive visitors that were truly after a unique experience not one that was just marketed as such ! instead we get shock and horror and moaning from business interests when the inevitable happens.
Lets get to grip with the fact that the only real wealth in this world has been created through innovation and not exploitation !

the kitchen slut said...

It seems that many in Australia have not yet woken up to the fact that we have become one of the worlds most expensive countries. Whether it be property or seafood we can no longer point the finger at London, Tokyo or Paris as we are on the verge of surpassing all of these.

The tourism industry in particular seems to want to outsource problems and blame rather than address structural change. This response isn't really any different from the manufacturing industry in the 70's and 80's. The Australian tourism industry rode the wave of the weak $AUD and now seems bereft ..... including our local Qld Tourism Minister.

Meanwhile over at Kitchenslut we have found that operators in town apparently don't deem it appropriate to criticise standards of service and quality without resort to responses of abusive harassment (which we haven't published).

The service quality standards in Cairns may be appropriate for a cheap destination but not for a now globally expensive one.

mandy moo said...

Hear Hear...as someone who has worked in hospitality for 20 years, I couldnt agree more with the kitchen slut about service and standards.
Cairns has become a joke.
I have just spent a week in Sydney, staying in a new hotel, in Campbeltown....yes you may laugh, but the standard of service was impecable. The staff in all areas of the hotel were so very good, helpful, friendly and professional.
The same can not be said of the staff here in one of our prestige hotels on the waterfront. My partner and I stayed last year. It was almost too hard for them to speak, let alone give service. we were frowned upon from the moment we got there. Never again!
Lift your game Cairns tourism industry or you will not survive.
Dont blame Qantas for all the troubles.

madam trashheap said...

In the last few years, I've noticed a distinct trend in The Cairns Post towards printing a photo of a girl (or girls) in a bikini on an almost weekly basis (boys on rainbow flags have only featured once, but at least they are featuring!).

And lately, I've noticed the pictures creeping closer and closer to the front page….page 3 to be precise.

My question is: is TCP trying to emulate The Sun (London) in it's "traditional" page 3 girl?

If they aren't then they need to take a good hard look at themselves and what is deemed newsworthy!

Check The Compost' s page 3 photo today (1 July)

Just a little something to add to your (considerable) arsenal on The Compost.

Keep at 'em!
Mme Trashheap