Darryl Branthwaite, CEO of GAPDL, speaks at the AGM on 26 October, 2017.
Darryl Branthwaite, CEO of GAPDL, speaks at the AGM on 26 October, 2017. Matt Taylor GLA261017AGM

Peak tourism body ready to capitalise on future

REEF day trips, industrial tourism, capitalising on our seafood industry and increasing cruise ship arrivals are just some of the future ideas being tabled by Gladstone's peak tourism body.

The items were flagged by Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited at its AGM Annual General Meeting at Oaks Grand Gladstone yesterday.

Tourism signs are positive for the Gladstone region and building blocks are being placed to capitalise on this into the future.

The GAPDL reported increases in both domestic and international visitors to the Southern Great Barrier Reef region when comparing the year ending 2015 to the end of 2016.

Among the highlights was a 14 per cent increase in international holiday visitors and a total expenditure of $1.08 billion, up 11.6 per cent on the previous year.

 

GAPDL chief executive officer Darryl Branthwaite said the seeds had been laid so Gladstone and the Southern Great Barrier Reef region can reap the future rewards.

"You put some strategies in places and you want to see them happen," he said.

"It's about getting the signage program out there, developing a new website and getting bloggers, writers, social influencers and agents to look at what we've got here.

"If they don't know they can't talk about it, so we want them to go out and sell.

"There's a hell of a cost among that, but the return on investment is so much more.

"Now we're started to see those numbers come through from the international and domestic side of things."

Mr Branthwaite said some international visitors had dropped, but others had sprung up in its place.

"New Zealand dropped off a little bit, but the American market climbed by 40%, the German market 25%, the English and French all grew," he said.

"But we are competing with the likes of Honolulu which is $380 out of Auckland."

 

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Heron Island. Amanda Blair

The region's size and proximity to the SGBR places it in a unique position for tourists to see everything all in the one place.

"Here they don't need to fly to Cairns - it's an hour flight (from Brisbane) or half a day's travel - we're tapping into that market," Mr Branthwaite said.

"The base plan is there and now it's about refining it and developing those experiences."

Placing further emphasis on the region's seafood industry was also high on the agenda, as was increasing cruise ship arrivals.

"There's a lot of people who want to drive up here and pull their boats up," Mr Branthwaite said.

"The number one hero experience is fishing - we all want to catch a whopper and they do too.

"So they come here and spend money on fuel, accommodation, food, booze... all these things matter and the proof is with the cruise ships.

"28,000 people walked off those cruise ships in the last 18 months since they started, which is a 2100 average per ship.

"We'll see those numbers increase once East Shores is completed."

Each cruise ship is docked for an average of nine hours in Gladstone with a study by the Australian Cruise Association finding the individual spend of around $297 per person.