PRISTINE: The reef off Heron Island is perfect for snorkelling and a tourist hotspot.
PRISTINE: The reef off Heron Island is perfect for snorkelling and a tourist hotspot. Paul Giggle

GAPDL tapping up southern market

THE team at Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited have returned from Melbourne after spruiking the Southern Great Barrier Reef to southerners.

GAPDL had a presence at both the February 17-18 Flight Centre Travel Expo and the February 21-26 Victorian Caravan, Camping and Touring Supershow, with both events attracting tens of thousands of visitors.

"About 26,000 people came through the travel expo and we had the Southern Great Barrier Reef stand so we were representing three different regions," GAPDL chief executive officer Darryl Branthwaite said.

"It was good for me to touch base with consumers and find out what they're actually after and the questions they're asking.

"We don't connect that well with Melbourne - they want direct flights but they've got to go to Brisbane to get through to Gladstone."

 

GAPDL CEO Darryl Branthwaite  at the Flight Centre Travel Expo at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
GAPDL CEO Darryl Branthwaite at the Flight Centre Travel Expo at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. GAPDL

The wholesale arm of Flight Centre, Infinity Holidays, organised travel deals with a maximum of two allowed from each region.

GAPDL had travel deals and packages for sale to both Heron and Lady Elliot Island.

"There was a lot of bookings done and we had a person on hand from Infinity and anybody who wanted to do a booking could do it right there beside me, which was pretty handy," Mr Branthwaite said.

Almost double the amount of people attended the six-day caravan and camping show.

"We had two of our volunteers, Helen Whitmore and Lurleen Ramm, look after the SGBR stand for the event down there where they had more than 50,000 people come through," Mr Branthwaite said.

"They are both different markets; obviously at the Flight Centre show people are interested in flying offshore.

"Then you have the people from the caravan and camping show which is all about the drive market, so we had maps there showing feeder roads through to Queensland and what people can do through our region.

"A lot of people seem to think the (Great Barrier) Reef starts at the Whitsundays and Cairns and don't realise we don't have all this stuff right on our doorstep."