Large jet service would promote tourism: hotelier

By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au

GLADSTONE is missing out on valuable tourism because it does not have a large jet service, according to hotelier Evan Ryan.

And Mr Ryan said he believed Gladstone did not need a new airport to bring in 'reasonable size (200 seat) jets' because the existing airport could be modified to suit them.

'My understanding from talking to the pilots is all that is required is a thicker tarmac,' he said.

Mr Ryan said 30 per cent of the occupancies in his 100 room Country Plaza hotel comprised people who flew first to Rockhampton then travelled by hire car to Gladstone.

The arrangement was inconvenient and discouraged people from choosing Gladstone as a destination, he said.

He said bigger jets would also mean cheaper fares. Mr Ryan said Rockhampton was expanding its airport gradually and if Gladstone did not get in first as an alternative jet destination, it would miss out altogether.

'We could get heaps more tourists to use our hire cars, fill more accommodation space, build more accommodation units, have more patrons for our restaurants ? I'd say we are losing about 500 regular jobs.'

A report delivered to the Gladstone Calliope Aerodrome Board in July recommended an extension of the runway by 165 metres to cater for larger air-craft, but it said there was no immediate need for it.

In July CEO Graeme Kanofski said an extension of the runway was still a long way off.

Gladstone Area Promotion and Development general manager Danial Rochford said future growth in air traffic probably depended on demand. He said the proposed resort developments at Tannum Sands and Curtis Island could stimulate that demand.



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