A Port Douglas accommodation group has slated the local tourism authority for an advertising campaign it calls a “blatant act of misjudgement and mismanagement”.
The adverts by Tourism Port Douglas Daintree (TPDD), titled Fancy a Tropical Break? You and me, next weekend, ran through August and September on Melbourne trams with the aim of attracting Victorians to consider a mini-break in Port Douglas.
But Port Douglas Direct, a tourism collective set up on June to counter the domination of online travel agents over local bookings, says the campaign was badly timed, coinciding with peak season in far north Queensland when weekend accommodation is scarce.
It is most irate, though, that the ads sent potential visitors to Booking.com to make their reservations, supplying a website URL for guests to book their You and Me, Next Weekend Escape through www.booking.com/portdouglasbreaks.
Describing the tourism authority as out of touch with local issues, Port Douglas Direct issued a statement saying: “Has TPDD not heard or read the furore in Port Douglas over the damage that the OTAs are doing, the near $20 million per annum that has been siphoned out of the town with Booking.com the main culprit?
“Did they not see the Dick Smith advertising or the newspaper or media articles on this very subject?
“Have they not listened or understood the point that OTAs are damaging our local economy and that by 2020 their market share will probably be at least 70 percent of all bookings with an inflated 15 percent minimum commission charge?
“Executive Officer of TPDD, Tara Bennett, in May attended a meeting where over 20 Port Douglas resort owners expressed their personal concerns over the damage being caused by OTAs. Flying in the face of this concern, TPDD proceeds with this advertising.
“Every time someone in Melbourne booked through that link, it not only cost Port Douglas Tourism the cost of the advertising but the resort 15 percent in booking commissions.”
Port Douglas Direct claims TPDD’s website lacks the functionality of its own search>compare>select>book>and pay facility despite the authority spending more than $100,000 on it over the past two years.
The collective says Douglas Tourism “urgently needs a professional, transparent commercial tourism body with the highest calibre CEO at the helm.
“In what can only be described as a blatant act of misjudgement and mismanagement, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree have again demonstrated just how out of touch they are,” says the group’s press release.
“We need to prevent embarrassing episodes…from happening again.”
TPDD was approached for comment but did not get back to Accomnews by time of press.