China’s announcement that its border would open on January 8 was a welcome New Year surprise bringing instant optimism that international travel would have a better chance of rebounding in the coming year.
With two-way quarantine-free travel from China to Queensland for the first time in three years, TTNQ has escalated our work in the China market. A public relations agency will be engaged, an updated Inbound Tour Operators contact list is being compiled, and discussions are underway with Tourism and Events Queensland about campaign opportunities.
There is much optimism about this valuable market, but many factors will impact its recovery. The Chinese trade distribution channels have been severely disrupted and will need to be rebuilt with many agents not expecting to be ready to operate before the second quarter.
Airline connections and capacity are far short of pre-pandemic levels, although we anticipate this will improve in their summer season from late March. Airfares are 126% higher, but on a downward trajectory and outbound group travel is currently not allowed.
Driving aviation demand for each of our key international markets is critical to TTNQ’s three-year international recovery plan. We are just five months away from our first new international flight connection for 2023, Virgin Australia’s direct flight to Haneda Airport, and I will be joining the team in Japan next month to help promote this key route.
Our international marketing team is working with Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia to bring our trade contacts to the region to experience our new and updated product with a strong focus on the trade attending the Australian Tourism Exchange on the Gold Coast in May.
Positive PR is also crucial to drive consumer demand and interest in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef and we were delighted to receive excellent coverage in the prestigious US-based Forbes magazine this month after a TTNQ media familiarisation late last year. Our international PR teams have been pitching story ideas to media and are in discussion for more media familiarisations with leading publications in our key markets in Germany, the UK and New Zealand.
While we try to accelerate the destination’s international recovery, we are still firmly focused on our very important domestic market and working hard to maintain the strong market share we have gained in the past two years.
Shoulder season campaign activity continues as we leverage our digital presence and remarketing database. The PR activity has kicked off with negotiations for a national reality show broadcast to a worldwide audience of 100 million to film here next month.
While summer visitation has slowed you can be sure that TTNQ is working hard on driving the return of our key markets and the positioning of Cairns & Great Barrier Reef as a global leader in nature-based and eco tourism.
Chief Executive Officer