STRUGGLING: Bill Fawzi, owner of the Outlook Cafe, Gladstone.
STRUGGLING: Bill Fawzi, owner of the Outlook Cafe, Gladstone. Brenda Strong GLACAFE

Gladstone ripe for tourism but does more need to be done?

WE'RE not short on travellers determined to see the country's industrial coalface - but should Gladstone step up efforts to attract a more mainstream type of tourist?

The wider Central Queensland region isn't short on visitors, recently ranking 20th on a list of Australia's most popular travel destinations.

So what would make them take a detour through Gladstone?

Karen Sweeney, GAPDL project officer for business and development, said there were plenty of attractions, but the tourism industry needed help to identify them.

"Industrial tourism does go very well here. It's definitely not your regular tourism," she said.

"We would love to work towards having a Great Barrier Reef day trip."

Ms Sweeney said Gladstone had "heaps of opportunties" for tourism development.

CQUniversity senior tourism lecturer Dr Wendy Hillman agreed Gladstone had good options for boosting visitors.

She said backpackers and "grey nomads" were prime targets, but the council would need to work to provide reduced cost accomodation for the travellers.

She also said cheap all-you-can-eat restaurants would help drive in both groups.

Gladstone's existing insfrastructure like bowling greens and the golf club would also help attract the oldies.

But Dr Hillman recommended big-thrill activities like white-water rafting and bungee jumping to get backpackers in.

"(Backpackers) also are often looking for work," she said.

"So (they look for businesses like) trawlers, cafes, restaurants, fruit picking - anywhere that will pay cash and not rip them off too much."

'Dirty' shadecloth ruins outlook

IT'S got Gladstone Harbour views, lush and leafy surrounds, and provides an escape from the noise of main street traffic. So why does the Outlook Cafe at Auckland Point Lookout struggle to fill up?

The reason, some say, is glaringly obvious.

Owner Bill Fawzi took on the property last April, in a rent-free deal with Gladstone Regional Council.

Since then, he's done various upgrades, adding air-conditioning, fixed tables, and new roofing.

But Mr Fawzi said without more customers, he'll battle to stay open.

And existing customers say adequate shade is the cafe's biggest issue.

Shadecloths at the facility are dirty, worn, and riddled with holes from passers-by who have thrown cigarette butts.

One regular, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the council should help make the cafe a tourist attraction.

"(Mr Fawzi) is a small business owner trying to do his best. He deserves some support from the council," she said.

"Everywhere else is so crowded, it's so much nicer to sit down and relax away from the shops."

But GRC spokesman Cale Dendell said the council had ruled out funding improvements for the struggling business. 

"Everyone would agree that the Outlook Cafe is a wonderful spot and could (and) should be a thriving business," Mr Dendell said.

"Regrettably, a number of different operators have been unable to trade the operation successfully for more than a decade."