Bundaberg is one of Queensland’s natural gems but, like the reef it lays next to, its tourism industry believes it can be brought back to life with the right management.
For a town of only about 70,000 people with a reputation for a humid climate, sugar and rum, Bundaberg already punches well above its weight when it comes to tourism.
Already just a little less than one-third of the 520,000 domestic visitors who visit Bundaberg each year do so to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
But the region has less than one-tenth as many international visitors, a number that has flat lined since the 1990s.
But a strategy of doubling visitor expenditure by 2020 is dependent on making better marketing use of its natural wonders under one coherent brand.
At the last published headcount, Tourism Queensland estimated the Bundaberg are had about 33 different tourism accommodation establishments within near reach, encompassing everything from hotels to serviced apartments.
Between them they are a little on the cheaper side ($120) compared to the state average but occupancy is above the median with rooms booked out about 65 per cent of the year.
Tourism Queensland thinks aiming for restyling Bundaberg and surrounds into a region marketed under the banner of the “Southern Great Barrier Reef” will be the key to success, with a strategy that makes heavy use of turtles, fishing and, of course, coral.
The region is already exceptionally well known for its wildlife and its turtle rookeries, flying fox colonies and dozens of beaches and national parks are popular with holiday makers.
Just some of those seeking to take advantage of that push for an expanded slice of the tourist dollar include a Canadian investor which has recently built a 125-bed backpacker complex.