CEO-Board Updates

April 2024 CEO Update

The new Singapore Airlines A350 service touched down in Cairns this week bringing with it the opportunity to progress Tropical North Queensland’s international recovery.

The wide-bodied jet is estimated to bring a $26.5 million boost to the region’s economy with an additional 442 seats a week into Cairns and much needed cargo capacity for our region’s exporters.

The introduction of the Airbus A350 is a significant investment by Singapore Airlines in the future of the direct route to Cairns, reflecting their confidence in Tropical North Queensland’s tourism and cargo market.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland has been working in partnership with Singapore Airlines on a campaign to support this route which will continue into next year to drive more bookings in key markets with this increased capacity.

Of the more than 610,000 international visitors expected to arrive in Cairns this year, 80,000 will be travelling via Singapore, making the Singapore Airlines connection a successful outcome of the $200 million joint Queensland Government and industry Attracting Aviation Investment Fund.

Our business events sector is excited by the 8300 business class seats a year on this service which will make Cairns even more attractive as the place for incentives and corporate events, a high-yielding sector we want to develop in our shoulder seasons.

TTTNQ Events Manager Natalie Johnson joined the Business Events Australia USA Roadshow last month where interest was very strong in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef. The perception that Australia is too far away was tackled with much interest in the new Haneda connection to Cairns with Virgin Australia. Meeting planners were also interested to learn about the excellent value Australia offered for business events with a favourable exchange rate and prices that include all taxes.

Last week the first full year of post-pandemic International Visitor Survey figures were released which showed signs of recovery with international visitor expenditure back to $831.3 million, down 19.1% from 2019. Visitor numbers are down 43.4% on 2019 because of the region’s reliance on holiday visitors which make up 396,000 of the total 458,000 visitors. Business visitors are starting to help grow these figures with an increase of 14.2% to 18,000.

North America is our strongest market with 105,000 visitors, down about 20% from 2019. Their length of stay is helping to grow visitor nights with 522,000 nights from US visitors alone, down just 5.3%.

Visiting friends and relatives boosted the UK market by 3% to 74,000, while the 67,000 visitors from Japan were down 40.5%. There were 33,000 visitors from Germany, followed by 30,000 from New Zealand, 17,000 from France and 12,000 from Scandinavia.

Air New Zealand’s seasonal services between Cairns and Auckland returned this week with three weekly flights until the end of October. These will significantly enhance travel options to and from North America with a one-stop connection from Los Angeles or San Francisco via Auckland.

This year TTNQ’s activity in our key international markets has been intense as we utilise the Federal Government’s $15 million Tropical North Queensland International Tourism Recovery Program to rebuild our $1 billion international industry. We currently have 87 confirmed campaigns running internationally this financial year with the first eight campaigns achieving $10 million in visitor expenditure.


Mark Olsen
Chief Executive Officer