So what’s happening Cairns? The rest of the country is getting back to normal and we are lacking behind with an unemployment rate @12.4%, which is more than double the national rate of 5.4% with the Tourism and Construction sectors suffering the most.
There have been a range of forums and meetings of late to discuss and address this problem and I recently attended a business forum “Cairns 2010 The Next Decade”, sponsored by Cairns Post. David Koch “Kochie” as most of us would know him, was the guest speaker / MC with high profile business figures of Cairns community as the panelists. They were:
- James Cook University Deputy Vice – Chancellor Dr Stephen Weller
- Advance Cairns Chief Executive Ross Contarino
- Economist Bill Cummings
- General Manager of The Cairns Post, Nick Trompf
- Cairns Airport Boss Stephen Gregg
- Smithfield Centre Marketing Manager, Deborah McKilligan.
The idea of this forum as was to acknowledge as to where Cairns is situated at present and where could it be in the next decade. The ballroom at Sebel Cairns was packed with over 250 local business people seeking the very same answers.
The topics in the forum were tourism, aviation, agriculture, education and mining.
Here is a summary of points / issues and concerns raised:
- Cairns Tourism Industry depends on Aviation
- Cairns Airport has lost 300,000 seats in 2008
- We have slowly increased in seat numbers from international and domestic markets and should regain all the lost seats by the end of the year
- Tiger Airlines will be flying into Cairns as of September from Melbourne
- Cairns domestic Airport will be finished in September
- Cairns to be developed into FIFO hub for the mine industry and PNG
- Building strong business links with PNG through Advance Cairns and Cairns Chamber of Commerce
- Strengthening our relationship with China with outcomes for the tourism and education sector.
- JCU bringing some conferencing into Cairns one being International Rainforest Tourism Symposium.
- Investment into our Tropical and Environment expertise, through JCU and Australian Tropical Foods
- Hectares of uncultivated land in Tablelands not being utilized and ready for development
- Local dairy farmers have been forced to cut production by 30% for milk and axe butter and cheese production. Our farmers need support from local community: Buy local produce
These are some of the points that were discussed at the forum. As the discussions continued it was evident that our business community was unsatisfied with our current economy and leadership. Kochie mentioned Cairns needs to diversify it’s core business and learn from other destination’s success stories. We are diversifying through our education, tropical expertise, environmental studies, tropical agriculture and mining. Is this enough? Organisations are being funded for projects but not working in unison; it was apparent that we need a body that can collate these projects together giving us a clearer future path.
Cairns tour operators are world leaders in eco-tourism but this subject was not touched on. People around the world are concerned about the climate changes, so why not showcase this benefit to the world by promoting our region as the “Green Tourist Destination”?
Cairns has been struggling for awhile with many businesses either folding or moving on. It was obvious at the forum that if things are not going to improve for us soon, there will be more and more businesses closing their doors. We need a co-ordinated response from the federal and state government to invest through infrastructure and jump start our economy. We need strong local leadership to help Cairns smash the walls that are surrounding us.
Your Recruitment Agency Cairns – Signature Staff
Author: Vlasta Eriksson