Strong interest in Port Douglas as conference destination
Natalie Johnson, general manager of Flames of the Forest and Business Events Port Douglas chairperson, said the increase in incentive group bookings was a great plus for the region.
“It is particularly heartening to see an increase in international incentives, as these are the programs which tend to use a comprehensive range of suppliers in the region, including accommodation, events, restaurant bookings and touring,” Ms Johnson said.
She said small groups were choosing boutique properties such as Silky Oaks Lodge and Thala Beach Nature Reserve, while larger groups were filling Pullman Sea Temple, QT and the newly refurbished Sheraton Mirage Grand Port Douglas Resort.
“The US incentive market has been slowly increasing over the past four years and together with a spike in incentives from New Zealand, Port Douglas is well positioned for a great year. We are very confident 2018 will see further growth in this sector, and personally, we (Flames of the Forest) have business confirmed for both 2018 and into 2019,” said Johnson.
Quicksilver Group events manager Megan Bell said 2017 was very positive and solid quotes had been accepted for 2018.
“Quicksilver is seeing good growth from the Australian and New Zealand market and we are starting to have good returns from the US/Canadian market, which has been soft for a number of years,” she said.
“There are a number of reasons driving this, including the weak dollar, which makes us an attractive destination for the Americans, through to the Australia/New Zealand market who are staying closer to home. Port Douglas has had a number of new products and upgrades to existing infrastructure and the resulting focus on the destination has created a new vibe”.
The recent $45 million refurbishment of the 5-star Sheraton Mirage Grand Port Douglas Resort has re-established the venue as a prime conferencing location, according to Sheraton Mirage sales and marketing director Nathan Gadd.
“Feedback has been incredibly positive from our MICE customers and interest is strong from the domestic market, in particular Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as our neighbours in New Zealand,” he said.
“They are excited about the new and upgraded facilities and the creative ways we can host large-scale events down to small team-building incentives. We are also seeing an increase in the US and Europe incentive markets. We are in the discussion phase with many clients about 2019, with some in contract. All signs are pointing to healthy future seasons in Tropical North Queensland.”