Tourism has surpassed the sugar industry to become the lynchpin of the economy for the Douglas region.

Figures from Tourism and Events Queensland demonstrate that, with an 80% economic reliance on tourism, the Douglas Shire ranks as the most tourism-dependent region in Australia.

Domestic Day Visitors spend approximately $120 per day during their visit to the Douglas region. Domestic Overnight Visitors spend around $1,034 during their stay and International Overnight Visitors spend around $1,246. Overall visitor expenditure was estimated to be approximately $561 million in 2013, up from $270 million in 1994/5.

The tourism industry relies primarily on the spectacular World Heritage listed beauty of the region and several internationally renowned natural attractions. Significant tourism assets include access to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest National Park, unspoilt beaches, the Daintree and other fresh water rivers including dazzling waterfalls, and generally beautiful rural and agricultural scenery.

The Mossman Gorge Centre, an eco-tourism and visitor’s centre at the gorge, enhances the ability to share Kuku Yalanji culture, traditional knowledge and history with tourists through guided tours of the forest, caves and traditional homeland. The centre provides an increase in opportunities for Aboriginal training and employment through tourism and the production and sale of local art.

Accommodation provision is the Douglas Shire’s largest employer but the industry has faced an unprecedented struggle over the last few years as occupancy rates have fallen due to local and world economic factors including the Global Financial Crisis and resulting loss of confidence.

The development of new tourism assets peaked between 2006 and 2008 and growth in accommodation premises has been relatively stagnant since 2010. There are indications that the region has entered a ‘tourist massification’ phase: a reduction in high-end destination status as infrastructure ages and overinvestment in accommodation leads to less than optimal occupancy rates.

Low occupancy, oversupply and direct competition from neighbouring regions have pushed the Douglas price premium lower which reduces the attraction to, particularly international, high-end tourists.

Nevertheless, visitor and accommodation numbers for the year ending in June 2013 show a significant recovery for tourism in the Douglas Shire. Even larger growth to a worth of $630 million is predicted for 2014.


Tourism Numbers to Douglas Expenditure
Annual visitors to the region 1.2 million
Staying overnight 438,000 $561,024,000
Day visitors 772,000 $90,324,000
International visitor numbers 84,000 $104,664,000
Domestic 354,000 $366,036,000

Source:Tourism Port Douglas Daintree and Tourism Events Queensland Research Update – year ending 30 June 2013