HUGE CATCH FOR VISI­TORS Reef HQ mas­sive draw­card for lo­cals, tourists

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - BET­TINA WAR­BUR­TON bet­tina. war­bur­ton@ news. com. au

TOWNSVILLE’S iconic Reef HQ has a mem­ber­ship base that would make any NRL club boss green with envy.

That’s the mes­sage from Great Bar­rier Reef Ma­rine Park Author­ity tourism and stew­ard­ship direc­tor, and for­mer Reef HQ direc­tor, Fred Nu­ci­fora.

The Reef HQ aquar­ium mem­ber­ship base stands at about 17,000 peo­ple, and Mr Nu­ci­fora says that ri­vals most NRL clubs in the coun­try.

“Our mem­ber­ship base is some­thing we’re in­cred­i­bly proud of,” he said.

“It com­petes with most of the NRL clubs. They would love to have as many mem­bers as Reef HQ has.”

Mr Nu­ci­fora said dur­ing the past two years, the Reef HQ aquar­ium had ex­ceeded its vis­i­ta­tion tar­get.

Lat­est statis­tics re­veal the num­ber of visi­tors to Reef HQ dur­ing the past fi­nan­cial year reached 142,610, an in­crease from the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year of 140,268.

“About 80 per cent of vis­i­ta­tion is lo­cal and re­gional and the re­main­der is from na­tional and in­ter­na­tional visi­tors,” Mr Nu­ci­fora said.

“We wel­come all de­mo­graph­ics to the aquar­ium but it is the young fam­i­lies who are the big­gest, and grow­ing, de­mo­graphic.” Mr Nu­ci­fora said de­spite be­ing 30 years since the aquar­ium was built, it con­tin­ues to punch above its weight in terms of at­tract­ing strong crowd num­bers.

“Peo­ple are re­ally em­brac­ing the aquar­ium, shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence on so­cial me­dia plat­forms which spreads the word to lo­cals and other visi­tors,” he said.

“Thirty years on, it’s still a world class stan­dard aquar­ium and it has not been matched across the world.

“There are other larger aquar­i­ums but not one has a liv­ing tropical coral reef ex­hi­bi­tion of the size we have at Reef HQ.”

Pic­ture: ZAK SIM­MONDS

UN­DER­WA­TER WON­DER: Guide Ryan Ra­masamy shows US tourist Stephanie Rains through the Reef HQ aquar­ium.

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