Coastal towns stuck up a creek
CONCERNS over a significant drop in tourism numbers at Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy will be one of the key focuses at Gladstone Regional Council's general meeting today.
Over the last 18 months the two coastal towns have been impacted by a decrease in tourists visiting, with tourism operators holding three interlinked issues responsible:
- Sand collecting in Round Hill Creek, reducing access
- A lack of marina facilities to facilitate trips to the reef
- A lack of reef operators capable of taking passengers
Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited CEO Darryl Branthwaite said the issues added up to one major problem.
"The access through Round Hill Creek is very limited for marine operators, and access is 75% of the problem here,” Mr Branthwaite said.
"Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy have been really affected for a lengthy period of time with less reef operators going to Lady Musgrave,” he said.
Mr Branthwaite said Gladstone Regional Council had to intervene as the access situation "needs to be dramatically improved and quickly”.
A Gladstone Regional Council spokesperson said dredging at Round Hill Creek would be considered at today's council meeting.
Problems with dredging, however, include the expense and the risk the sand builds up when weather conditions change.
Discovery Coast Tourism and Commerce president Amber Rodgers said even if the creek was dredged today, tourist rates would not improve overnight.
"The reality is council are not going to go buy a new boat if access is improved. That's up to investors,” she said.
"The huge investment depends on a lot of people and the fact is, right now, we are seeing how having less seats going to the reef is affecting the rest of our businesses.”