Ancient Stories of Our Land by Jedess & David Hudson

CEO-Board Updates

CEO Column – 6 December 2017

The first direct scheduled China Southern flight arrived in Cairns yesterday to much fanfare and industry excitement.

Scheduled flights between Cairns and China have long been on our wish list and for the past three years Tourism Tropical North Queensland has been actively working with our partners Cairns Airport, Cairns Regional Council, Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia to make them a reality.

Some of our region’s pioneering operators have been working in the Chinese market for two decades building strong relationships with wholesalers and creating a fledgling market for the destination to grow. China has since become our largest source market of international travellers with 214,000 Chinese visitors staying an average of three nights and spending $102 million in our region during 2016-17.

We anticipate the number of Chinese will grow to 350,000 by 2020 and their length of stay will increase as more independent travellers take advantage of the direct services offered by China Southern. These direct flights offer a golden opportunity for Cairns to develop this highly valued market and further strengthen the role tourism plays in driving the region’s economy.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland and the region’s operators are committed to working with China Southern over the next three years to ensure scheduled services are a success. We will be marketing Cairns & Great Barrier Reef as Australia’s Tropical Resort Holiday Destination giving compelling reasons for Chinese travellers to choose the region for their next one-stop holiday.

Welcome China Southern!
We have the dual World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest while the outback is less than a day’s drive away. Our rich Indigenous cultural experiences, tropical lifestyle and unique adventures add to an exotic mix of Australian experiences that can be accessed in just seven and a half hours flying time.

Cairns is the closest western destination from China and will be positioned as mid haul. Currently, Chinese consumers think of Asian destinations as short haul and Western destinations as long haul.

The younger, connected Chinese millennial travellers are eager for new travel experiences offering cultural enrichment, outdoor activities and authentic experiences. They are highly connected and seen as opinion leaders. Importantly they are very active in sharing their experiences across their social networks.

China’s luxury tourism market is also booming and more than 80% of these travellers are choosing to travel outside the peak national holiday season. These two market segments present strategic opportunities for our destination to improve its market share of Chinese visitors.

Work is well underway to ensure we are ready for these new markets with suitable product and experiences being identified, industry training in regional areas and workshops on social media, online payment platforms and product enhancement.

Itineraries encouraging Chinese to visit Cairns & Great Barrier Reef as a single destination and to stay longer have been shared with key distribution partners in China. A famil program will bring more than 200 Chinese travel agents to our region and inbound tour operators will be trained to sell our region’s products.

We congratulate our partners Cairns Airport, Cairns Regional Council, Tourism and Events Queensland, and Tourism Australia on four years of hard work. Cairns & Great Barrier Reef is China ready and looking forward to a long and successful working relationship with China Southern ensuring sustainable flights to our destination.