Key Event to Bolster Tropical Travel

One of Tropical North Queensland’s key sporting events is shaping up to be bigger than ever.

Thousands of cyclists and supporters are set to descend on the region in September for the 2024 Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival, bringing a welcome economic injection to the Douglas Shire.

Organisers expect participant numbers to grow by at least 10 per cent on last year, with a targeted campaign also underway to draw additional international competitors.

It comes as Cairns Airport announces a new three-year partnership with the event, a deal aimed at supporting the festival’s ongoing growth to benefit the wider community and industry.

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Richard Barker said the festival, held from Friday 6 September to Sunday 8 September, was timed perfectly across the traditional shoulder season for tourism, which helped to extend the benefits of the winter peak for local operators.

“We traditionally see strong visitor numbers across the winter period as interstate travellers enjoy our ideal climate. Our team looks for strategic opportunities to attract visitors to our region outside of these peak months, and the Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival is an excellent drawcard,” he said.

“This event shines a light on Port Douglas in particular and offers a unique travel experience for cycling enthusiasts, their supporters and families. The stretch of road between Port Douglas and Palm Cove is one of the most spectacular in the world and it is rare to get the opportunity to cycle it without traffic, and truly take in the views.”

“Cairns Airport is proud to be announcing our support for the Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival for a three-year period.”

The Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival includes the 136km and 100km Gran Fondo, the 60km Semi Fondo and the 48km Medio Fondo, which will be held on Sunday 8 September. Other events include the Hartley’s to Port MTB Race, the Lexus of Cairns Criterium, Wharf Street Sprint, Choo Choos Free Family Ride, the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina Festival Expo, local live music and after party.

Renowned media personality Mark Beretta OAM will return as Ambassador for this year’s event.

Event director Bade Stapleton said the Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival, in its third year, offered a “perfect excuse” for interstate and international travellers to visit for a holiday.

“A lot of the people who take part in the event have never been to this region before. It’s a great way to introduce Tropical North Queensland to new visitors. Participants from previous years have told us they were blown away, not only by the ride, but by the whole region and the experiences they have here,” he said.

“We have people come from all over Australia to take part, including from Perth, Darwin and Tasmania, and we welcomed a number of participants from Japan last year as well. This year, we are working with a provider in Japan to grow that market, so we expect to see even more international numbers.”

“Visitor data shows us that people who travel interstate for the Port Douglas Gran Fondo festival stay an average of 7.2 nights in our region, which is more than most other sporting events in Queensland. Last year’s event added $1.6 million into the Douglas Shire alone.”

“Partnerships like this, with Cairns Airport, will enable us to continue to grow this fantastic festival and produce great results for our local community and industry.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said events like Port Douglas Gran Fondo would help the destination secure a slice of the $100 million a year in cycling tourism revenue that it had been missing out on.

“We welcome the targeted campaign to attract interstate and international competitors to help grow Tropical North Queensland as the ultimate tropical cycling destination,” he said.

Douglas Shire Mayor Lisa Scomazzon said the inclusiveness of Gran Fondo made it an appealing festival.

“Council loves that it brings together serious cyclists and parents and children who take part in events like the Free Family Ride,” she said.

“Accommodation occupancy jumps 10 per cent as result of Gran Fondo, so it’s welcomed by our accommodation and hospitality providers too.”

Cairns Mayor Amy Eden said the festival was an “outstanding event” for Cairns and Tropical North Queensland.

“There are not too many places where you can ride flanked by two World Heritage-listed natural wonders: the Great Barrer Reef on one side and the Wet Tropics rainforest on the other,” she said.

“I encourage anyone who has a bike to participate. As locals, we often take for granted just how unique and amazing our region is and this is a fantastic opportunity for locals to join this spectacular ride and enjoy the stunning scenery without the distraction of traffic.”

The Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. 

To register for the 2024 Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival, visit