Marine tourism boost with new licensing business
A GAP in Gladstone's training and tourism industries has just been filled by eMarine Training Hire Charter.
Owner Brad Smith, of Essential Health and Safety Group, has been working on his latest venture for the past 18 months and finally launched it on January 8.
If early indications are anything to go by - 2000 people were reached by the first Facebook post in half an hour, rising to 25,000 in 24 hours - it's a market that needed filling.
Until now, there had been no recreational boat licensing offered by local operators in Gladstone and no one-day charters to this scale.
"The big operators are being hammered every day about doing one-day trips," Brad said.
"We have some of the best reefs in the world right here on our doorstep.
"Tourism is the future here and I can't believe no one else has been doing it.
"So many people live here but have never been offshore."
Recreational and commercial marine training is the focus of this new venture, however Brad believes the market is there for the charter business to cater for scuba, snorkelling, surfing and fishing trips.
His boat is a 32-foot Cougar Cat wide-body with extended cabin and was built for the Volunteer Marine Rescue service in Mackay.
It is now being converted to a tourist boat.
"I think it will take a few years to build the charter business, but we think it's something that will really kick in," Brad said.
eMarine Training Hire Charter will offer licensing for tinnies, jet skis, speed boats and commercial marine training.
They will continue to offer first aid, fire, spills and low voltage rescue training, marine radio training and commercial boat hire.
From February 5, commercial operator licence training will kick in.
"We're getting numbers together for boats and jet skis, but first I'm keen to get this commercial training happening," Brad said.
"Right now, the nearest place for commercial marine training is in Airlie Beach or Brisbane, so I reckon it will be huge.
"Training is the biggest component for now, but I think the charter will eventually take over."
Brad plans to market eMarine Training Hire Charter through Tourism Queensland and Gladstone Area Promotion Development Ltd.
"Darryl Branthwaite (GAPDL) has been amazing and given me so much information," he said.
"We're collaborating with other operators. This is not just about our business, it's about the future of tourism.
"I've been wanting to do it for over six years. I had to have a go."
eMarine Training Hire Charter will operate out of the same building as EHSG, but with its own website.
Click here for more information.