Lady Musgrave Island.
Lady Musgrave Island. Christopher Chan

Industry and tourism don't mix, Greens candidate says

A CENTRAL Queensland environmentalist has said the Gladstone region must put the brakes on industry if it is serious about attracting tourists to the southern Great Barrier Reef.

Greens candidate for Capricornia Paul Bambrick said industrialisation of the reef would slash international visitor numbers.

"The world is watching us and it's certainly hurting our reputation," Mr Bambrick said.

He said Gladstone should shift its focus away from industry before it was too late.

"Tourism is far more sustainable and a positive long-term employer. When the industry is gone we will need it more," he said.

Mr Bambrick thinks it's still possible to reverse Gladstone's industrial image.

"This is the age of solar and alternative energy; surely we can change the focus and embrace these things," he said.

"There is lots of potential for wind energy here. Gladstone could be leading the field, a pioneer of clean energy.

"We need to start thinking about this or we are just going to be left behind."

But GAPDL project officer Melissa Dahtler said the environmental debate about Gladstone had not impacted on tourism in the region.

"I have never come across this issue," Ms Dahtler said.

She said she had only heard good things about Gladstone's reputation when she went to travel and holiday shows around Queensland.

"I think there's more negativity in the region than outside," she said.

CQUniversity's tourism expert Dr Steve Noakes believed the biggest impact was on accommodation.

"Accommodation is very difficult to find in Gladstone," Dr Noakes said. "Accommodation supply is a major influence on the tourism market."

But he said the key to any successful tourist destination was a positive report.

"Good news helps tourism; not-so-good news does not," he said.

Dr Noakes said the impact on Gladstone's "brand" was not extending to the region's tourist attractions, like Agnes Water and 1770.

"The Agnes Water market, for example, is a much stronger tourism brand than Gladstone."

Terry Mitchell, from the Auckland Hill Bed and Breakfast, said Gladstone would never be a tourist town, so we should not worry about the impact on our image.

"The majority of people come here for business anyway," he said.

"It's the high Australian dollar which has slowed tourism, not the harbour."