Push to brand highway between Cairns and Port Douglas as Great Barrier Reef Drive
NAMING the iconic drive to Port Douglas the Great Barrier Reef Drive could see it rival the Great Ocean Road.
So says a Port Douglas tourism organisation which wants to brand that section of the Captain Cook Highway using the Reef association.
Doug Ryan, from Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree, says the drive from Yorkeys Knob to Port Douglas is rated one of the top five drives in Australia and now he wants to name the scenic experience.
While it would still remain the Captain Cook Highway, Mr Ryan said branding the 40km stretch would boost driver tourist numbers and create global awareness.
"When people travel to Cairns from Port Douglas and Port Douglas to Cairns, it's not just a coach trip,'' Mr Ryan said.
"It's an experience.
"The Great Barrier Reef Drive is going to be worth a lot to the local economy.''
Depending on the support from Cairns Regional Council and Main Roads for the idea, Mr Ryan hopes to launch the drive before the next tourist season in April or May.
"All of a sudden we've got this drive and people think `wow, I'm going to drive the Great Barrier Reef Drive'. Let's brand it.''
Mr Ryan hopes entrance and welcome signs can be put up as part of the branding and tourist information at lookouts could follow the launch.
"At Rex Lookout, we could have a little more information for visitors and about the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics area.
"I think it could rival the Great Ocean Road eventually, without a doubt.''
Australia Post recently released a stamp of the idyllic drive, the artwork for which could form the backdrop for signs, he said.
"We could have that design,'' he said.
"It just reinforces the fact that here is an opportunity. That stamp (shows) the Great Barrier Reef and view of the drive over the Rex Range.''
State MP for Cook David Kempton said the idea could gain traction.
"I will support any local initiatives that enhance the region's identity as a premier tourist, local and business hub for the Daintree coast,'' he said.
"If Mr Ryan is able to garner support from the community and the businesses along the route, then I will support the idea and am happy to assist.''
Cairns Regional Councillor Julia Leu (Div 10) said she supported the idea.
"The Great Barrier Reef is internationally known and it's a huge drawcard for tourists,'' she said. ``The road is just spectacular.
"I think it's one of the top drives in the world and to brand that, I think, is very important.''
Ms Leu said a concerted effort from all levels of dhgovernment would be the first step before potential costs were established.
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Scene stealer: The picturesque 40km highway route from Cairns to Port Douglas will be renamed The Great Barrier Reef Drive if Doug Ryan has his way. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS