1770reef Great Barrier Reef Eco Tours launched from 1770 to Lady Musgrave Island.
1770reef Great Barrier Reef Eco Tours launched from 1770 to Lady Musgrave Island. Contributed

Tourism records broken for region

THE Southern Great Barrier Reef region has received positive news as recent statistics revealed record numbers in domestic visitors and spending during 2016.

Official figures have confirmed record results for domestic visitors and overnight visitor expenditure to the year ending December 2016.

There was 1.98 million domestic visitors to the region in 2016, an increase of 1.6%, while overnight visitor expenditure totalled $1.08 billion, an increase of 11.6%.

Out of the almost 2 million visitors to the region, 616,000 were made up predominantly of holiday/leisure visitors, 663,000 were visiting friends and relatives and 548,000 came from business visitors.

Queenslanders made up the majority of visitors with 1.7 million from within the state and 249,000 from interstate, mostly from New South Wales (128,000) and Victoria (57,000).

The Southern Great Barrier Reef destination encompasses three regional tourism organisations including the Capricorn, Gladstone and Bundaberg and North Burnett tourism regions.

The average length of stay for visitors was up at 4.1 nights with an increase by 9.7% to 8.1 million.

Coral reef at Heron Island
DRAWCARD: Heron Island boasts some of the best diving and snorkelling spots. Paul Giggle

Gladstone Area Promotions and Development Ltd chief executive officer Darryl Branthwaite said the record figures of solid growth didn't just magically happen.

"It comes from strategic marketing, exposure through travel and caravan and camping expos in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, along with connecting with travel agents and writers from across Australia and the world,” he said.

"Each RTO (regional tourism organisation) takes an enormous amount of pride in where we live, and this partnership called Southern Great Barrier Reef has evolved into a major destination of Australian significance, full of experiences which encourage visitors to not only stay that little bit longer, but spend more while they travel through our regions.”