TOURISM UP: Mark and Katrina Mergard of 1770 Reef- Great Barrier Reef Eco Tours say they are experiencing an influx of tourists.
TOURISM UP: Mark and Katrina Mergard of 1770 Reef- Great Barrier Reef Eco Tours say they are experiencing an influx of tourists.

Our coastal towns are pumping

THE owners of a tourism business in Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy say business is booming in the region despite reports to the contrary.

Mark and Katrina Mergard said when they opened the NewsMail yesterday, they were disappointed to read about the coastal area's tourism numbers plummeting.

The story reported concerns about a significant drop in tourist numbers in the area, a key focus in Gladstone Regional Council's meeting yesterday.

The Mergards, who own and operate 1770 Reef-Great Barrier Reef Eco Tours and The Marina, said tourism within the township was actually at a high.

"The town is pumping," Mrs Mergard said.

"Only last week we had story in about an award we received for our 6000th passenger and we are now well beyond 7000 passengers since December," Mr Mergard said.

The couple said it wasn't just their business reaping the benefits, with many other local operations also experiencing success.

"At the moment the caravan parks have all been full and some days they have to park the caravans on council land until they can get some room," Mr Mergard said.

"Pavillions on 1770, the resort, is actually full all the time."

The couple agreed that a few months ago things weren't looking good but a change in the weather had brought in tourists from near and far.

"Early in the year the tourist numbers were down because of the bad weather but now things are great and we are doing really good numbers," Mr Mergard said.

Yesterday Gladstone councillors approved the spending of $100,000 into tourism research.

The funding will be used to lobby the Federal Government to dredge the sandbars around Round Hill Creek, where a lack of access was blamed for the reported slide in tourist numbers.

Having suffered sandbar problems of their own, Mark and Katrina Mergard said the dredging option was "fantastic".

"If we can get to the boat to the marina every day, it saves us having to do transfers," Mr Mergard said.

"It is a lot of work so this will make it a lot easier for us to run the business."

"The council are really on the front foot with this and really want to see tourism thrive."



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