Easter was busy across the region with 94,000 passengers passing through Cairns Airport last week and 77,000 during the first week of the Queensland school holidays. Cairns has not seen this domestic air capacity since 2018.
With four short working weeks in a row and school holidays spread across three weeks to drive demand, the tourism industry is finally doing what it does best – showing visitors how to enjoy Tropical North Queensland’s beautiful World Heritage areas and laidback lifestyle.
Occupancy was high with places like Port Douglas reporting more than 95% over Easter and strong bookings through to the September school holidays. The Cassowary Coast, which is well loved by the local drive market, was discovered by people from interstate.
It was really encouraging to see the demand for our many world-class experiences including coach tours of the world’s oldest rainforest, diving on the Great Barrier Reef and food tours of the Atherton Tablelands.
With COVID-19 cases increasing in the region, we were concerned about staffing but fortunately the relaxation of vaccination requirements helped. Business owners and operators have been working tirelessly to plug workforce gaps and not impact service knowing that our people are an essential ingredient for memorable tourism experiences.
Restaurants managed by staggering openings, while the takeaway stores were pushing through incredible numbers of meals for those who couldn’t get a booking. Picnics and barbecues at the beach were the choice for many families.
Car hire utilisation at Cairns Airport was the highest of any major airport in Australia this Easter. Demand was higher than 2019 and continues to be strong through to Anzac holiday weekend.
With stunning drives like the Great Barrier Reef Drive, the Canecutter Way to the south of the city and the Waterfall Circuit on the Atherton Tablelands, day trips during a week-long holiday are a must. In 2021 Tropical North Queensland had 1.2 million drive visitors, representing 60 per cent of our domestic market which helped drive domestic expenditure to a record $2.7 billion last year.
Winter has always been the season of choice for southerners to visit, but they have been discovering that our shoulder seasons are just as good for a tropical break. With the return of the international and cruise markets we hope to see numbers grow again in summer to keep our destination busy beyond October.
As the most Googled regional destination in Australia for the past two years, Cairns will continue to attract attention and the team at TTNQ will be backing it up with strong seasonal campaigns to drive year-round visitation as we strive for $4 billion in visitor spend by 2025.
Chief Executive Officer