CEO-Board Updates

August 2022 CEO Update

TTNQ and 22 member businesses were the largest contingent at Tourism Australia’s Marketplace North America this month, meeting with 80 trade representatives to promote Cairns & Great Barrier Reef.

Held in Manhattan Beach, California, Marketplace was the first post-pandemic face-to-face meeting with wholesalers, Aussie Specialists and Luxe Specialist Sellers to discuss new products in the region and influence itineraries.

It followed the Swain Agent Training and Summer Bonding Event in Philadelphia, supported by Tourism Australia, celebrating Swain’s 35 years selling in Australia which TTNQ Western Marketing Manager Claudia McFadden attended with representatives from Cairns Aquarium, Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Cairns Adventure Group, Quicksilver and Passions of Paradise.

The week prior, TTNQ Marketing Manager Lani Strathearn and eight members joined the Down Under Answers roadshow targeting more than 300 agents across Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Orange County.

There was strong interest in Australia and our destination with agents saying that North Americans would be planning longer holidays in future. These in-person events are crucial to driving US and Canadian tourists back to Australia.

Our operators were fortunate to be supported by Tourism and Events Queensland subsiding their attendance at Marketplace. The next step to ensure Cairns & Great Barrier Reef is prominent on itineraries for North American visitors is to bring key trade people to our destination to experience the products.

Rebuilding our international market is crucial to being a year-round destination as international visitors make up the bulk of our summer visitors.

Funding for international marketing, including famils hosting key trade representatives, will be critical to ensuring our success in clawing back the $1 billion in international visitor expenditure we enjoyed before the pandemic. Our region is losing $2.5 million a day while we await the return of international visitor numbers.

Our billion-dollar international tourism sector is waiting for the green light for the $15 million in Federal funding announced in the last budget to fund international marketing over three years.

Cairns & Great Barrier Reef was a powerhouse of international tourism before the pandemic and, as the gateway to Australia’s number one attraction, the Great Barrier Reef, our destination’s success is critical for Australian tourism.

That’s why the previous Federal Government listened to our business case for Australia’s international recovery and committed $15 million to enable TTNQ to be at the forefront of driving international visitors into Australia.

This uncertainty with funding highlights the need for sustainable long-term funding for our destination.

We have proven that increasing destination marketing works by generating $300 million in campaign-generated direct visitor expenditure from the Federal Government’s $10 million investment over the past two years. On the back of this investment, we achieved a record domestic visitor expenditure of $3 billion in the year ending March 2022.

Tropical North Queensland increased its market share in visitor nights and visitor spend within the State and was the only region to exceed our pre-COVID domestic visitor spend by more than $700 million.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning’s proposal to raise $16 million for destination marketing through a levy is estimated to deliver an economic impact of $176 million to support close to 1000 new jobs and improve the liveability of Tropical North Queensland.

Adding the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee to a holiday to fund a levy would end our region’s ongoing battle to lobby government for funding to support much-needed marketing initiatives to enable tourism to once again make a valuable contribution to our regional economy.


Mark Olsen
Chief Executive Officer