By JAMES WILKINSON
Hoteliers in Queensland are cheering on new flights to the Sunshine State for the third time this week, with China Southern announcing a seasonal service to Cairns and Etihad Airways increasing Brisbane to a daily operation from Abu Dhabi.
The moves from China Southern and Etihad come alongside new China Eastern services from Shanghai to Cairns set to commence in October, the same month Qantas recommences flights to the Gold Coast from Sydney.
Etihad will move from a three times per week operation to daily from February 1, 2013, while China Southern’s new thrice-weekly flights from Guangzhou to Cairns will operate seasonally from December 18, 2012 to March 1, 2013.
Mantra Group’s CEO Bob East said the new China Southern services were a welcome boost for Far North Queensland.
“With China Eastern services into Cairns three times a week due to commence in October and yesterday’s (Aug 15) announcement that China Southern will also commence services in December, the tropical north is now well placed to benefit from the inbound Chinese travel market,” he told HM.
“The region is fast becoming a favourite for this market with its many natural attractions and we certainly have the product to accommodate them.
“In fact Mantra Group’s resort properties in Tropical North Queensland felt the positive impact of the Chinese and Asian inbound tourism reporting a 7% increase in revenue for the last financial year – and the Peppers and Mantra properties in Cairns and Palm Cove achieved record numbers for Chinese New Year celebrations this year.
“The initiatives at property level to cater for this market are proving popular with inbound operators and now with this added support from carriers I expect the region will continue to flourish,” East said.
Coinciding with the new flights was an announcement by Tourism Australia (TA) of a partnership between China Southern and the federal body, as well as several state and territory tourism organisations.
The cooperative marketing deal will see AUD$9 million invested in promoting Australia and TA’s CEO Andrew McEvoy said the deal was a significant one given the airline’s massive exposure in China.
“These agreements are strategically very significant with China Southern the largest airline in China and its Guangzhou base fast establishing itself as an important international hub, the closest major mainland city in China to Australia,” McEvoy said.
“China Southern is now the leading carrier on the China-Australia route, carrying 22 per cent of all Chinese tourists into Australia during 2011. In just over two years, the airline has nearly quadrupled capacity to Australia, opening up direct access between China and Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, and soon to be Cairns.
“China Southern has a large domestic network in China and is rapidly developing Guangzhou into a major hub which will eventually help connect up to 80 cities to Australia. This hub and network strategy supports Tourism Australia’s own approach under the Tourism 2020 strategy of targeting the country’s rapidly emerging middle classes – focusing primarily on China’s primary cities, with steady expansion into more secondary cities over time,” he said.
McEvoy said the new agreement would boost the recently launched ‘There’s nothing like Australia’ global campaign in China, which has been viewed online by 20 million in that country alone.
“China Southern’s partnership with Tourism Australia and its State and Territory partners, incorporating our new There’s nothing like Australia campaign creative is fantastic, given their enormous reach within China and, importantly, the fact they carry more Chinese travellers to Australia than any other single carrier,” McEvoy said.