GAPDL CEO Darryl Branthwaite.
GAPDL CEO Darryl Branthwaite. Mike Richards

Gladstone hotels chase cashed-up tourists to fill FIFO void

WITH fewer fly-in-fly-out workers in the region and 97% of those workers staying in workers' camps, Gladstone's hotels and motels have a 57% vacancy rate, a Queensland Treasury report has revealed.

The 2015 Gladstone region population report attributed the high vacancy rate to the downturn in the region's "non-resident" populations, which reflected the transition of Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal from construction to production, and the progress made towards completing the first trains of the three LNG plants on Curtis Island.

"Around 57% of hotel/motel rooms in Gladstone were vacant and available in June 2015, compared with 39% in June 2014 and 28% in June 2013," the report found.

However, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd CEO Darryl Branthwaite has big plans to turn this negative trend around.

He wants to put Gladstone on the "must see" list and capitalise on cashed-up tourists.

"We want to create a new industry for the region by developing the tourist side of things," he said

"People on holidays always have expendable money and we just need to get them spending it here."

Mr Branthwaite said there was a 34% growth in tourism this year and he was looking to increase that percentage within the next six months.

"We've got 700 and 350-bed conferences planned for next year and we're looking for more; we're in talks with tourism operators to develop holiday packages and, most importantly, we've got six cruise ships coming next year," he said.

"It's all about getting as many people as possible and introducing them to Gladstone and the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.

"We need to show our area off and get those people coming back. We need Queenslanders to get out of Brisbane and visit the reef."

GAPDL has joined forces with Tourism Event Queensland which is running a $400,000 campaign to promote the southern Great Barrier Reef.

"With the cruise ships coming and rumblings of more on the way this is such a great opportunity for so many businesses in the region," he said.

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