Tourism businesses in North Queensland have received a major boost with China Eastern Airlines’ announcement to fly three weekly direct services between Shanghai and Cairns later this year.
The new services will add to the 14 direct weekly services the airline already operates from Shanghai to Melbourne and Sydney.
“These new flights will help ensure that Queensland tourism operators can benefit from the huge growth in Chinese visitors eager to travel,” said Australia’s Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson.
“The number of Chinese visitors to Australia grew by almost 20 per cent in 2011 to exceed half a million for the first time.
“Of the more than half a million Chinese visitors to Australia, over 226,000 travelled to Queensland in the year ending March 2012, with 88,000 of these visiting the region around Cairns.
“Access to Australia and regional airports such as Cairns are vital to securing this growth. Air services negotiations by the Government have delivered an extra 8,000 seats per week from China.”
The announcement follows the commencement of China Southern Airlines services from Guangzhou to Perth in November 2011.
“These new services will help Australian tourism reach the anticipated $9 billion annual contribution from China by 2020, when around a million Chinese travellers are expected to visit,” Ferguson said.
“The Government’s AUD $48.5 million Asia Marketing Fund will ensure Tourism Australia can effectively lure Chinese travellers to Australia and experience some of our iconic attractions including the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and Whitsunday Islands.
“The Welcoming Chinese Visitors project and Tourism Quality Project Grants under the Government’s $40 million T-QUAL program are helping to ensure Australia’s tourism businesses can cater to the growing Chinese visitor market.”
Senator for Queensland, Jan McLucas, welcomed the potential benefit to local businesses the announcement by China Eastern Airlines would bring.
“This announcement opens a gateway to China for Cairns and offers the opportunity for the local businesses of Tropical North Queensland region to tap into the growing Chinese market,” said Senator McLucas.