Great Keppel Island is a top tourist destination in the region.
Great Keppel Island is a top tourist destination in the region.

Business is booming on the Great Barrier Reef

The Southern Great Barrier Reef has had a boom in visitor numbers a new national visitor survey by the Tourism Research Australia shows.

The findings found visitation to SGBR destinations had gone up 11.8 per cent.

A whopping 2.3 million domestic visitors - two million from within Queensland and 263,000 from interstate - ­visited between September 2018 to September 2019, spending $1.1 billion locally.

Lady Musgrave Island anchorage
Lady Musgrave Island anchorage

Max Allen from Freedom Fast Cats transports visitors to and from Great Keppel Island daily.

He has noticed a big increase in international visitors, backpackers and people visiting family.

This is also in the face of a quieter than usual whale watching season with more boats providing competing services. "It's been a tremendous year," he said.

Mr Allen said visitors had told him the best coral in Queensland was off the ­Capricorn Coast.

"One visitor told me they don't see a need to go any further north of Yeppoon," he said.

Freedom Fast Cats have ferried over 3 million people to Great Keppel Island
Freedom Fast Cats have ferried over 3 million people to Great Keppel Island

Capricorn Enterprise chief executive Mary Carroll said the Capricornia tourism industry worked exceptionally hard to achieve the results.

"What's even more impressive is visitors to our ­Capricorn region have accounted for about 50 per cent of the SGBR total," she said

"Our SGBR inter-regional visitors (699 000 per year) are showing a three-year trend increase of 12.2 per cent and our Brisbane/South East Queensland visitors (650 000 per year) are showing a three-year trend of 12.1 per cent increase, which reflects our direct marketing efforts."

The statistics show a massive increase in visiting friends and relatives and those travelling for business, as well as holiday visitors.

This increase can be attributed to not only to the mining resources sector but also to the $3.6 billion in major projects currently underway and planned for the region.

The average spend is $129 per person, per night and the average spend per domestic visitor is $496 per person.

Just 30 minutes from Yeppoon’s Capricorn Coast, Great Keppel Island serves up a smorgasbord of 17 secluded white-sand beaches to snorkel, sail, dive, fish and swim.
Just 30 minutes from Yeppoon’s Capricorn Coast, Great Keppel Island serves up a smorgasbord of 17 secluded white-sand beaches to snorkel, sail, dive, fish and swim.

"While these official stats are just one indicator, the intel from our local operators also confirms this trend, with ongoing reports of excellent visitation," Ms Carroll said.

"We expect to see these positive visitation figures continue into the next quarter, with many coastal operators reporting a record December period."

This follows the launch of a joint SGBR branding and marketing program between three regional tourism organisations in the Capricorn, Gladstone/1770 and Bundaberg regions (Capricorn Enterprise, GAPDL and Bundaberg Tourism).



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