Airport boss ready for new challenge on tourist board
GLADSTONE airport boss Peter Friel is hoping to bring his extensive experience in airport management to the GAPDL board of directors after being recently elected to a position.
The Gladstone Airport Corporation chief executive officer has been in the role since January after previously managing airports in all corners of the country.
Many of those have been in tourist hot spots such as the Kimberleys, Devonport in Tasmania, Cairns and the Cocos Islands.
It's that experience that will come in handy on the Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd board of directors.
"I think it goes hand-in- hand with the position I have here as the boss of the airport," Mr Friel said.
"We're a major gateway to get visitors in to the area.
"Growth and tourism is something we really want to help foster so my new position works in nicely with what the GAPDL is trying to achieve in respect to promoting tourism.
"Hopefully I can add something to help strengthen and improve that part of the market that we'd love to see develop around the area."
The former NSW police officer is under no illusion the airport can make or break a tourist's holiday experience.
"If people come and have a bad experience at the airport on the way in or out, that taints their overall experience," he said.
"If they are going to wax lyrical about a place, that could really affect it."
Gladstone is one of the gateways to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, with the airport already running seaplanes out to Heron Island.
However, Mr Friel says a new helicopter service will soon conduct flights out to the SGBR island from December 1.
"Hopefully from GAPDL's point of view we can do some things that will encourage Gladstone as a tourism destination and people won't view it just as industrial, but a place to come for holidays, especially those weekend visitors out of Brisbane," he said.
"The Kimberly is a very big tourism destination and Tasmania is a growing destination... it's working ways the airport can mesh in with what the GAPDL is doing and trying to help that customer experience.
"From my point of view we're open for business - if the airlines want to fly in from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or wherever we'll be here to facilitate them."
Mr Friel says he's looking forward to working alongside GAPDL CEO Darryl Branthwaite.
"I've got a good relationship with Darryl and we'll work closely together - whatever the airport can do to help facilitate tourism growth in the area we'll be more than happy to take that on board and I'll be able to provide that insight to the board first-hand," Mr Friel said.
"Hopefully we can move forward and get some of those synergies in order to start getting people to the reefs more and growing the cruise ship market.
"Taking on a GAPDL directorship role is a much wider view I have to take in respect to tourism, it's just not airport focused or aircraft-centric, which is good.
"I'm very much looking forward to the challenge."