Irate Port Douglas accom owners frustrated by OTA commissions have set up their own tourism collective to create a more powerful voice to challenge the booking giants.
The group argues the commissions reaped by online travel agencies “rival the crown-of-thorns starfish” as the area’s greatest threat.
Gerry Ireland, director of Port Douglas Direct, says operators in the region are shocked by the levels of revenue being lost to offshore bookings giants.
“This year, community Port Douglas will miss out on over $20 million,” said Mr Ireland.
“These are the fees paid to online travel agencies (OTAs) by the Port Douglas accommodation businesses.
“Sadly, it doesn’t stop there as this figure is increasing at around eight percent each year.
“Over the past ten years, more than $180 million has headed offshore. $180 million!”
Port Douglas Direct will operate as an overarching tourism and marketing company designed to provide benefits to the area’s property owners by leveraging the latest online technology.
It will employ “the very best technology and collective marketing ideals to place the power back in the hands of the business owners”, says Mr Ireland, and will be known as Discover Port Douglas when it launches later in 2018.
The group sees technology as the key to assisting businesses retain funds from accommodation bookings for the “benefit of locals, visitors and Australia”.
Mr Ireland says business owners are frustrated by a lack of action taken by representative bodies from the local Douglas Shire Council and Tourism Tropical North Queensland to the Queensland and Australian governments over online travel agency commissions.
Fellow director Glenn Smith says the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) established in 2001 has failed in its duty to flag the millions lost to Australian tourism through the commissions.
“Port Douglas cannot wait for ATDW to do something innovative and useful.
“The technology of the ATDW is years behind the times, so that’s why we bit the bullet, took action and brought these local businesses together to propose a solution.
“This has implications for the whole of Australia. We are doing our bit by taking a lead here in Port Douglas,” he said.
According to the group, 90 percent of Port Douglas businesses rely on tourism for their income.