ALL roads may not lead to Gladstone, but the city is bucking the trend in the region by continuing to attract international tourists.

Locations across regional Australia have seen a marked decline in international visitors, including a 20% drop in Bundaberg, but numbers in Gladstone remain steady.

Co-ordinator of the Gladstone Visitor Information Centre Lynette Spencer said overseas tourists were continuing to visit Gladstone.

"We've had a lot from Germany, Switzerland and the cold European countries," she said.

"They're often on their way through to the Great Barrier Reef and are in search of a warm climate."

She said the district's national parks and access to the reef was a drawcard.

"Tourists can go bushwalking, do a farm-stay in Kroombit or see the wreckage of the crashed plane Beautiful Betsy."

She said tourists can see "the real part of Australia" in Gladstone, but said attracting the Asian market was proving difficult.

"To bring in Asian tourists, we'd need a direct flight from the Gold Coast," she said.

Gladstone Backpackers manager Lesley Belcham said numbers were on par with last year, but that the reasons for visits had changed.

"Last year, we had more backpackers looking for work but this year most are just passing through," she said.

She said the numbers for Heron Island were down a bit this year.

The Observer spoke to the Enari family, who was visiting from Italy.

Marco Enari said the family had enjoyed eating the "different foods" in Gladstone and had visited attractions around town.

Mr Enari, who is from Milan, said the majority of people in Italy didn't know that Gladstone existed.

"Everyone knows Brisbane, but not the smaller places like Gladstone," he said.

OVERSEAS TOURISTS IN JULY

  • United Kingdom: 62
  • Rest of Europe: 173
  • Japan: 1
  • Rest of Asia: 26
  • North America/Canada: 63
  • Other: 13


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