The Southern Great Barrier Reef region comprises the tourism regions of Capricorn, Gladstone and Bundaberg North Burnett.
Capricorn is the northern gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and straddles the Tropic of Capricorn, stretching from the Central Highlands in the west, to Rockhampton, the Capricorn Coast and Great Keppel Island in the east.
Gladstone is the centre of the Southern Great Barrier Reef and gateway to Heron, Wilson, Lady Musgrave and the Capricorn Bunker Group of Islands.
The Bundaberg North Burnett region is the southern gateway to the Southern Great Barrier Reef and is Australia’s premier location for observing nesting sea turtles at Mon Repos Conservation Park. The region stretches from the town of Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island and Mon Repos in the east to the North Burnett region, with Gin Gin in the west and Childers to the south.
In the year ending March 2017, domestic visitors to the Southern Great Barrier Reef region spent over 10% more per person per night (now at $140/night on average), driving overnight expenditure growth of 11.9% to $1.1 billion overall. The region welcomed 143,000 international visitors, up 1.8%, and driven by growth in visitation from the region’s two largest source markets, the UK (25,000 visitors, up 2.9%) and Germany (23,000 visitors up 15.3%).
Capricorn Enterprise, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd and Bundaberg North Burnett Tourism are the region’s economic development bodies and regional tourism organisations and reported the following highlights and initiatives for 2016-17.
- A number of major public infrastructure projects totalling hundreds of millions of dollars are currently underway in Yeppoon/Capricorn Coast and Rockhampton. These have attracted significant State, Federal and Local Government funding support and include:
- Yeppoon Foreshore and Town Centre Revitalisation
- Rockhampton Riverfront Redevelopment
- Panorama Drive, Pacific Heights Yeppoon
- Yeppoon Homemaker Centre and Yeppoon Gateway Industrial Precinct
- Emu Park's Hartley Street Sport and Recreation Reserve and Barmaryee Sports Centre Yeppoon (new home training ground for CQ’s Rugby League team “Capras”)
- Capricorn Resort
- Great Keppel Island has seen the doubling of tourism accommodation (200 beds now available) and tour operators (water activities, leisure boats) in the past four years. Great Keppel Island Hideaway is making huge in-roads into Tourism Trade Distribution with major Inbound Tour Operators and Wholesalers regularly booking packages direct from Europe, particularly France.
- Record number of operators in the Capricorn Region and Southern Great Barrier Reef destination now contracted in tourism trade (60 grown from less than 10 just six years ago) .
- Annual Digital Mentoring and Trade Distribution programs continue to provide critical assistance to operators in improving capability and results.
- In 2015-16, collaboration by the three regional tourism organisations on Drive tourism has stimulated increased overnight expenditure and Overnight Stays in the Gladstone Region.
- The Gladstone Region became a cruise destination in 2016, with P&O scheduling 17 ships to visit over two-years. Gladstone is now recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in Australia and has secured more cruise liners to visits the region. This has been achieved on the back of a multifaceted program to enhance the onshore experience of passengers, including a cruise ambassador program, upskilling workshops and trade mentoring for tourism operators.
- In August 2016, the Bundaberg Distilling Company opened its new Visitor Experience following an $8.5 million upgrade, one of the most significant investments in the distillery's 127-year history. The new distillery and museum experience includes an eatery and expanded tour offerings.
- The 2016/17 Mon Repos Turtle encounter tours saw a record 30 227 visitors book for the ranger guided experience. The Queensland Government was awarded $10.5 million for the re-development of the Mon Repos Turtle Centre as a world-class, year round, visitor experience, due to open in 18/19 season.
- In November 2017, Bundaberg Regional Council opens the $27M, Bundaberg Region Multi-use Sports and Community Centre (Multiplex) project. This project which includes multiple sports/civic halls, function rooms, commercial kitchen, and a café, is becoming the Wide Bay’s premier venue for sporting, community and business related events.
- The scuttling of the ex-HMAS Tobruk is a project partnership between the Queensland Government, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast Regional Councils to create an artificial reef and world-class dive site off the coast between Bundaberg and Hervey Bay. The ex-HMAS Tobruk is currently in the Bundaberg Port being prepared for scuttling and can be viewed from the shore.
- Tourism in the North Burnett will receive a significant boost following a successful application to the Queensland Government’s Building our Regions grant program, with Council receiving $1.27 million grant funding towards the expansion project. Estimated at a total value of over $2.5 million, the Mingo Crossing Project will incorporate the addition of nine powered sites, six glamping sites, a second amenities block, camp kitchen, day users parking area, children’s playground, and development of 40 additional camping sites.
- The Southern Great Barrier Reef destination partnership had 15 tourism products attend the 2017 Australian Tourism Exchange, as well as a record number of trade ready product ready for distribution and featured in the Southern Great Barrier Reef Trade Manual. This has been made possible through Trade Development and mentoring programs, as well as the strong cooperative partnership between the 3 RTO’s that make up the Southern Great Barrier Reef destination.
The Southern Great Barrier Reef Hero Experiences have been developed to deliver the region’s long-term tourism vision and brand promise. The Hero Experience themes are:
- Southern Great Barrier Reef
- Regional Character
- Regional Flavours
- Beach Culture