The Southern Great Barrier Reef is behind a billion dollar tourism industry.
The Southern Great Barrier Reef is behind a billion dollar tourism industry. Vince Valitutti/Q

RECORD MADE: Region behind a billion dollar industry

GLADSTONE'S Southern Great Barrier Reef is reeling in serious tourism dollars with new data showing $1.12billion was spent in the region in the past financial year.

Tourism Research Australia's domestic visitor data reports that in the year to June, 2018, a record 2.66 million travellers visited the Southern Great Barrier Reef - an 11.8 per cent increase.

Gladstone Area Promotion and Development chief executive officer Darryl Branthwaite said the figures would be even more significant once international dollars were calculated.

"It is record highs for our overnight spend," he said.

"The likes of our international spend are yet to be heard but it will be close to the $90million mark."

Mr Branthwaite said there had been a 42.1 per cent growth for businesses.

He said conferences, events and cruise ships were key elements in the tourism boom.

"There's a lot going on, businesses plummeted last year but they have climbed significantly since," he said.

"Businesses are seeing a massive growth and the economic climate is becoming quite buoyant."

Mr Branthwaite said the domestic tourism boom was the result of people holidaying at home.

"They are discovering what they've got in their own backyard and they are returning after getting a glimpse of our beautiful region," he said.

Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said Gladstone's booming cruise industry put the region at an economic advantage.

"Tourism is a vital industry for Gladstone," he said.

"This data just goes to show that our strategy to grow this sector locally is paying off.

"We're seeing a record number of Australians wanting to experience the best parts of Gladstone.

"Importantly, these visitors are spending more than ever while they're here.

"With a booming cruise industry, we're perfectly placed to capitalise in the future as well."

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said more tourism jobs would be created in Gladstone.

"We're investing more than ever before in this industry because we're committed to creating more tourism jobs in places like Gladstone," she said. "The data released today is proof that our record $180million investment in Queensland tourism is already paying off."