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A DRAFT Economic Development Strategy designed to leverage sensible economic drivers and diversify the economy has been released for public consultation.

Douglas Shire Council is seeking community feedback on the 24-page strategy which provides a clear economic plan for the region in a post-COVID world.

The 2021-2024 strategy, which is open for public comment until 28 February 2021, prioritizes three drivers that provide the overarching strategic direction for economic growth in the region.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the strategy presented a clear path to attract exciting new industries, create jobs and achieve sustainable economic growth.

“Tourism underpins our economy, but we need to target new markets with fresh experiences, grow the health and well-being sector, as well as capitalise on our appeal to the lucrative sports tourism market,” he said.

“In agriculture, Mossman Mill continues to look at diversifying its sugarcane products through the bio precinct, while we have recognised a unique potential to showcase our tropical fruit, seafood and indigenous foods through rich paddock-to-plate experiences.

“To become a thriving economy, Douglas Shire needs smart, targeted and sustainable development to attract a modest increase in its population and capitalise on the deep affinity the southern pre-retirement and retirement demographic has with our destination.”

The strategy identifies key projects such as the Mossman Mill bio precinct, Mossman Botanical Gardens and Great Barrier Reef Legacy Living Coral Bank, as important drivers in developing the environmental science sector to attract workers and residents to the region.

Douglas Shire is home to over 12,000 residents, with almost 60% living in the two main population centres of Port Douglas and Mossman.

Port Douglas is the tourist gateway to the region, while Mossman is the administrative, health, industrial and agricultural hub.

The three key drivers identified in the strategy for economic growth are:

  • Diversify and expand the tourism offering
  • Diversify and innovate in agriculture
  • Targeted growth of Shire’s population

This Strategy formalises the findings of the Economic Strategic Review Committee and considers the impact of COVID-19 and markets trends on the Douglas economy.

Mayor Kerr said Douglas Shire was uniquely positioned to adapt to the new economic environment brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID crisis has taught us that working remotely is not only possible, but also desirable for many who could bring their office to our tropical paradise,” he said.

“Council can also begin to explore new clean energy markets and technologies, such as the hydrogen power market.

“In these uncertain times, we are delivering a strategy that seeks to inspire our region to innovate and become a stronger, broader-based and more resilient economy.”

Deputy Mayor Lisa Scomazzon said the strategy required a collaborative approach from the community.

“Our community needs to work together to achieve the goals listed in this strategy, so it’s important we gather feedback about the draft strategy before it is formally adopted by Council,” Cr Scomazzon said.

“The strategy sets a clear and measurable action plan to monitor Council’s efforts and progress towards economic diversification and prosperity.

“By gathering feedback on our economic plan, Council is seeking to deliver an economy that is thriving, growing and diverse.”

Feedback on the Draft Economic Development Strategy has now closed and the final Strategy may be found  here.

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