OPPORTUNITY: Day trips from Gladstone to the Southern Great Barrier Reef have been identified as a key way to grow the tourism economy.
OPPORTUNITY: Day trips from Gladstone to the Southern Great Barrier Reef have been identified as a key way to grow the tourism economy.

GROWTH: Council’s plan to bring more visitors to Gladstone

DAY trips to the reef have been identified as a key way to grow the number of visitors to Gladstone in a new tourism report.

The Gladstone Region Visitor Economy Strategy 2025, tabled at the most recent council meeting, sets out ways to grow the tourism economy from $315 million to $348 million in 2025.

The report states day trips from Gladstone to the Southern Great Barrier Reef are key to achieving this.

It said for Gladstone to be a competitive tourism market it needed unique experiences for visitors.

“Consistent access to the reef, affordable air access, all-weather roads to key locations, and connectivity across the region will be vital to grow visitation, counteract the effects of seasonality and increase regional dispersal,” it said.

It said the region’s opportunities for growth included reef cruises to Lady Musgrave Island, day trips from Gladstone to the Southern Great Barrier Reef, positive perception of the reef, involvement of Indigenous people and industry groups, new developments such as the Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail and an increased number of events.

Gladstone Area Promotion and Development CEO Gus Stedman previously said they were in negotiation with a number of tourism operators to develop day trips to the reef, however, the number of cruise visits needed to increase.

“You can’t get more ships without having the product,” he said. “It needs someone to take the leap of faith.”

The report also recommended better creek access to Seventeen Seventy, affordable and increased flights and better roads.

People targeted include drivers from nearby regions, business travellers, boaters and fishers, cruise market, RV drivers and people interested in events.

Expensive airfares, lack of day access to the reef, limited access to Seventeen Seventy and the perception of Gladstone were identified as some reasons tourists may not visit.

Councillor Peter Masters said the report was evidence that the council’s tourism strategies were working.

“(We’re) taking the community on a journey and they can look at these documents and see where we’re going.”

It recommended investigating more flights in and out of Gladstone, including to the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Townsville and Sydney.