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Clyde Holding rejects claims by Christopher Skase that pilots' dispute has caused losses by Qintex tourist resorts

PETER THOMPSON: The Federal Minister for Tourism, Clyde Holding, has rejected the claims by the Qintex group that the pilots' dispute is a contributing factor in the demise of their Mirage resorts. Mr Holding told AM's Michael Brissenden the Mirage resorts are a victim of over- development.

CLYDE HOLDING: One of the problems that faces the tourist industry generally in that part of the world, is the fact that there has been a large level of development, many developers working on the basis that you only have to get yourself a decent headland with a bit of a view, put up a fairly luxurious massive resort facility, and then expect people to turn up in droves.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But the pilots' dispute wouldn't have helped, would it?

CLYDE HOLDING: Oh no. I mean, I think generally speaking, Cairns and Port Douglas, as an area, have suffered very badly because in fact, most of the tourist trade there depends very much on fly-in - something like 70 percent comes from people flying in.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: So you must then accept that the pilots' strike has been a factor in their demise.

CLYDE HOLDING: Look, what I was told and I am not in a position to argue the detail of Mr Skase's problems, but what I was told, well and truly before the pilots' strike, was that the bed occupancy rate at the Mirage resort was not such that it could be seen as a viable short term proposition.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, it appears that the Mirage resorts will go to Japanese companies. Has the pilots' dispute put Australian entrepreneurs and developers at a considerable disadvantage?

CLYDE HOLDING: Look, it's put some entrepreneurs and some developers at a disadvantage, but whether in fact, the problems that Mr Skase faces are in fact significantly attributable to that, I think is questionable on the basis of what information we have. And certainly, I would think, given the range of Mr Skase's activities, there are many more factors involved and certainly, the information in the industry was that the bookings at the Mirage resort were well down, well and truly before when the pilots' dispute took place.

PETER THOMPSON: Clyde Holding, the Federal Minister for Tourism.