NICE SPOT: Blackmans Gap is a great place to visit for a quick swim and bush walking.
NICE SPOT: Blackmans Gap is a great place to visit for a quick swim and bush walking. Contributed

New focus on hidden gems to attract families to region

THE Gladstone Region's peak tourism body will ramp up its focus on experiences in order to attract more people to the region.

Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited revealed plenty of positive tourism growth numbers at its 'Mini' AGM last week.

"All the visitation is growing right across the region and the Southern Great Barrier Reef is growing by 11.8 per cent now," chief executive officer Darryl Branthwaite said.

"Even the Gladstone Region itself had a 17 per cent increase in visitations, but there are certain areas of those visitations which are remaining stable and not growing at the same rate and one of them is the visiting friends and family sector."

Mr Branthwaite used the LNG boom as an example where a lot of families would fly up to visit relatives in Gladstone and stay for a number of days, or sometimes weeks, and visit the hidden gems of the region.

"That side of things isn't happening much any more so what we're trying to do is target that area," he said.

"We are putting a lot of focus on our local region and highlighting all the little things that are in it - so it might be up the Boyne Valley visiting the likes of Fairy Springs (off Tableland Rd) or swinging off a rope at Nagoorin Bridge, going up through to Blackmans Gap or going out to Lady Musgrave Island.

 

The coral reef is on show at Lady Musgrave Island.
The coral reef is on show at Lady Musgrave Island. Duncan Reilly

"There's those things and other packages we're tying to get out there like day trips to Heron Island."

Special events, conferences and the lucrative wedding market are also on the group's list for 2019.

"We're working on the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) sector and getting more conferences here with breakout rooms.,'' Mr Branthwaite said.

"We've had a few here of late... where they are here for four or five days and then there's the pre and post holidays that come with that.

"There's other things like weddings and we're putting out a wedding guide for the whole region. It's something that drives a lot of visitation."



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