Donovan not sold on tourism doldrums

JULY 2010

Talk of further turmoil for the Gold Coast’s tourism sector has struck a sour note with Gold Coast Tourism chairman Paul Donovan, who points to strong investment and increased travel numbers as indicators of the industry’s strength.

The Gold Coast Airport boss and passionate tourism advocate cites Surfers Paradise developments Soul, the Hilton and The Oracle at Broadbeach as prime examples of rebounding investor confidence.

“Why would people who are better brains than me be investing lots of money on the Gold Coast if it’s going to go backwards?”

“Tourism on the Gold Coast is alive and well and will continue to grow (and) we’ve got more accommodation coming online,” says Donovan.

Gold Coast airport has recorded 27 per cent growth in overseas travel from the corresponding time last year, with domestic travel up 10 per cent.

“Every month for the last two years we’ve shown growth,” he says.

“Our shareholders are putting lots behind the airport. Bruce Buchanan (Jetstar CEO) stated that there would be double the capacity here in the next five years – they aren’t idiots, they understand their business very well. Brisbane airport is (also) doing well.”

Nine Network finance editor Ross Greenwood, recently told a packed room of hospitality and tourism operators that the tourism sector has become an economic ‘drain’ on Queensland, and a $1 billion industry deficit is expected to turn ‘dramatically into the red’ over the next few years.

Donovan repelled the comments and says Greenwood hasn’t done his homework.

“It’s alright to knock but to be quite honest Ross Greenwood didn’t speak to anyone before he made those comments,” he says.

“It’s a pity he didn’t speak to people that are in the business and understand the investment in it, then maybe he could have given a qualified answer. This place I think is on the springboard to go again, not retract.”

Donovan insists the tourism industry must act now and push itself forward. Speaking at the Currumbin RSL launch of its new Boomerang Smiles customer service training course, he says such initiatives show that operators aren’t ‘sitting on our bums, hoping it will happen’.

“We are an inbound tourist destination – driven by all the people that come here for a holiday and they deserve good service,” he says.

“We’re doing very well, but we need to make sure that we all get together collectively and sell the place – that’s the big thing. It’s not an advertising campaign, it’s doing the hard yards (and) converting people to come here.”

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