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Cairns secures landmark year-round China flights

01 July 2017

China Southern Airlines will operate three flights a week direct from Guangzhou to Cairns following a landmark agreement set to pump $90 million into the Tropical North.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the new flights were the first secured through the Palaszczuk Government’s Connecting with Asia fund.

“With the support of the Palaszczuk Government, China Southern Airlines will fly the first-ever year-round service by a Chinese airline into Cairns,” Ms Jones said.

“In the first year we expect these flights to bring more than 33,000 Chinese visitors to Tropical North Queensland, which in turn flows on to the local economy and supports jobs across the region.

“In fact the tens of thousands of new Chinese tourists coming into Cairns are forecast to be worth more than $30 million in overnight visitor expenditure in our region in the first year alone.”

Treasurer and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said the new flights were a game-changer for the region.

“This is great news for tourism and jobs in the Far North,” Mr Pitt said.

“This is the first time we’ve ever been able to offer direct access to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef from mainland China.

“The extra visitation to our region will help grow the economy and jobs and support our tourism businesses.”

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said it could be the start of even bigger things.

“We know Chinese visitors love the tropical north and the unique tourism experiences on offer, especially the Reef, but flights have been a hassle,” he said.

“These direct flights into Cairns remove the complexity of connecting flights, which puts Cairns on a competitive pegging with destinations like Hawaii and Bali.

“Word of mouth is the best form of advertising and once these visitors have seen the spectacular offerings of our region, they’ll be telling all their friends and colleagues that Cairns is a must-see destination.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning welcomed today’s announcement.

“This is what we’ve been working toward for a long time,” he said.

“Cairns Regional Council has partnered with the Queensland Government to secure year-round direct flights, which will have a substantial impact on the local Cairns economy.

“China is our largest and fastest growing tourism market, with the number of visitors last year almost triple that of 2010.

“The introduction of year-round flights will increase Chinese access to Cairns the Great Barrier Reef.

“With the imminent opening of the Cairns Aquarium and significant private investment in accommodation development, our city is particularly well-placed to capitalise on this great opportunity.

“I’d like to thank Minister Jones and everyone involved in delivering this great boost for Cairns’ and Queensland’s tourism industries.”

Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Norris Carter said China Southern’s direct flights to Cairns would create more opportunities for visitors to experience the reef and the rainforest.

“Whether as a standalone visit, or as part of a longer Queensland and Australian itinerary that takes advantage of our extensive domestic connections, visitors will be able to spend more of their time enjoying their holiday rather than travelling.

“We welcome the Queensland Government’s support through its Connecting with Asia fund, and we look forward to rolling out the red carpet for China Southern’s first flight in December.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Chair Max Shepherd said it was incredibly rewarding for the destination to finally have direct China services confirmed.

“Having developed the concept for Australia’s Tropical Resort Holiday Destination two and a half years ago and lobbied diligently over that time, this is a significant milestone for Tropical North Queensland,” Mr Shepherd said.

“The establishment of scheduled services from the world’s largest tourism market will connect new consumers to Australia and create profound opportunities for the Tropical North Queensland industry.

“Australia caters very well to the multi-destination visitor, but a very large proportion of the free independent traveller market is currently travelling to Guam, Singapore, Malaysia, the Maldives and Hawaii.

“Australia is currently not appealing to this market, however, the State Government investment in partnership with Cairns Airport and Tourism Tropical North Queensland will open this very rich vein of opportunity, not only for Tropical North Queensland, but for Australia as a whole.

“These direct flights are an outstanding example of a great partnership between an airline, Cairns Airport, Cairns Regional Council, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Tourism Australia and Tourism and Events Queensland to collaboratively develop, invest in, and deliver a fully integrated campaign to market Tropical North Queensland to the resort holiday traveller in China.”

Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan said he expected strong interest in the new service.

“The challenge now, as well as the opportunity, is to encourage them to enjoy more of the country, through improved aviation access to some of our regional tourism heartlands such as Cairns and Far North Queensland, which this exciting new service will undoubtedly do,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

The first flight is expected to land in Cairns in December.

Through the Advance Queensland: Connecting with Asia Strategy the Palaszczuk Government investing $33.5 million with matched industry contributions to boost the growth of visitors to Queensland from across Asia.