Our History

Tourism Tropical North Queensland evolved from a grassroots community and business movement to help the region’s slowing economy through the Far North Queensland Promotion Bureau. In 1971 visitor spend was at $50 million with most visitors arriving in Cairns by steamer, rail and caravan. However, the potential to grow tourism was recognised when Hollywood superstar Lee Marvin made a name for Cairns through his regular game fishing trips during the 1970s.

 

In response to the need for a coordinated and cooperative approach to tourism marketing, the Far North Queensland Development Bureau set up a Board for Tourism and Travel. Professional fundraisers secured $40,000 to $50,000 a year from local authorities and the business community for the first five years, giving the region one of the largest destination marketing budgets in Australia at the time.

In 1978 the Far North Queensland Promotion Bureau was formed to focus on destination marketing and as a result tourism slowly overtook agriculture, forestry and mining as an economic driver for the community. In the seven years from 1974 to 1982 bed spaces increased 150% to 7500 with more than 400 tourism businesses, including $30 million worth of reef boats, and some 30 tour bus options. By 1993 tourism was worth about $120 million a year.

The Cairns International Airport opened in 1984 and international marketing of the destination began in earnest. Just two years later significant investment in tourism infrastructure began with Japanese investors leading the way by building hotels and expanding the reef fleet.

Tourism was booming until the pilot’s dispute in the summer of 1989 and 1990 cut the supply of visitors to Cairns, demonstrating just how dependent the region was on tourism and aviation. TTNQ worked on coordinated campaigns to strategically rebuild markets and at the time was acknowledged as one of the most active, aggressive and effective tourism promotional bodies in the country. Tropical North Queensland experienced the strongest growth and recovery of any destination in Australia.

In the 1990s, the Cairns Region Tourism Strategy, which drew on the resources of more than 90 agencies, set a blueprint for the region to develop a diversified tourism product and ensure sustainable use of its natural and cultural assets in the hope of future-proofing the industry.

With construction starting on the Cairns Convention Centre in 1992, attention turned to the meetings and incentives market. The region’s fortunes turned around in 1993 when its 17% growth in visitor numbers far exceeded the State’s 4% growth. That year the Promotion Bureau had one of the highest levels of membership of any regional tourism organisation in Australia. The following year tourism became the region’s first billion dollar industry.

In 1998 the Bureau began trading as Tourism Tropical North Queensland to reflect the new destination marketing name of Tropical North Queensland and a consumer website was launched as a marketing tool.

Aviation continued to be a challenge with the cancellation of services from Japan in 1998 and the loss of Singapore Airlines and Garuda in 2000. The Cairns Aviation Strategy Team brought TTNQ, the Cairns Port Authority (which operated the airport at the time) and Tourism Queensland together to lobby for international and domestic aviation services. In 2001 Ansett collapsed resulting in a 40% loss of domestic capacity to Cairns.

Devastating cyclones in 2006 and 2011 compounded by the Global Financial Crisis brought a tourism downturn that filtered throughout the region’s economy. Strengthening and diversifying the region’s tourism industry and destination appeal was an essential part of the 2011-2031 Tropical North Queensland Regional Economic Plan. Increasing sports and events tourism, eco and nature-based tourism, and education tourism were part of the growth strategy.

Since then sports and events tourism has helped spread visitation into traditional shoulder seasons and Tropical North Queensland is now known internationally as a sports destination thanks to events like Ironman Asia-Pacific and the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships. In 2018 education tourism is supporting 300 jobs in Cairns and work has started on the Wangetti Trail, a walking and mountain biking trail to be marketed as one of the top 10 trails in Australia.

With aviation access critical to the region’s future prosperity, TTNQ successfully lobbied the Queensland Government to establish an aviation attraction fund which resulted in direct flights from China to Cairns beginning in 2017. Direct flights to Asian destinations have paved the way for the region’s agricultural sector to export produce, further strengthening the Tropical North Queensland economy.

TTNQ was also instrumental in convincing the Ghassan Aboud Group to begin its foray into Australian hotel development in Cairns with robust forecasting showing the time was right for new tourism infrastructure. In 2018 the Group’s Crystalbrook Collection is transforming the Cairns skyline with a $500 million investment in three new international hotels.

After consulting members and industry partners, the TTNQ Board embarked on a strategic review which resulted in the 2018-2020 Strategic Direction. This plan is being implemented by the TTNQ team to deliver $3.5 billion expenditure in 2020 and lead the way forward to the vision of becoming one of the world’s most inspiring nature based destinations.

#ExploreTNQ

POV: selfies at @kurandakoalagardens 🐨🤳

​One of the top experiences in @australia is to say hi to our furry friends 🐨👋 @kurandavillage is home to many of our tropical wild friends, so where better to go animal-spotting than at one of Kuranda’s many wildlife gardens and sanctuaries like Kuranda Koala Gardens, one of the very few places in the country where you cuddle a Koala for a souvenir photo! 🎥💫

#exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
If you're after a palm & relaxing holiday, @visitpalmcove has got you covered 🌴😉

Just a short 30 minute drive north of #Cairns, this tiny beachside village isn’t all about drop & flop 🌴🐚 Explore the town on foot, or choose a bike instead of car & buy fresh seafood for a sunset barbecue on the beach 🏖 You can hire a kayak & paddle right off the beach or take a tour to nearby Double Island 🍹🏝 The Palm Cove jetty is a great fishing spot, with plenty of Spanish mackerel, cod, whiting, stripeys & flathead to be caught 🎣

📸 @stvzie #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Discover the stunning #BlencoeFalls in #GirringunNationalPark 🌴 Where #BlencoeCreek plunges & cascades in spectacular fashion to the bottom of a deep gorge 💦🦋 With towering cliffs & rugged ridges, Blencoe Falls is the gateway to the @wettropicsworldheritage  Great Walk 🏃🏻‍♀️ Explore 110km of walking tracks, offering everything from short strolls to full day hikes 🙌🏼🥾

📸 @wunez #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
@silkyoakslodge is putting a new spin on ‘feeling green’ 🌴💚

If you like your rainforest wilderness with a side of luxury, this is the place for you! 
Set deep in the rainforest of @portdouglasdaintree, the newly refurbished Silky Oaks really delivers following its multimillion dollar rebuild, with dreamy treehouses & an idyllic onsite spa 🧖‍♀️✨

Don’t forget to take a dip in your very own balcony bath 💦 

📸 @jilarapearl #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #portdouglasdaintree #silkyoakslodge
This isn’t your every day photo of a tropical paradise, but around here, we’re not limited to just reef & rainforest - we’ve got outback tracks too! 🏜

Say hello to Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park in #CapeYork ✨Open from June to December, this outback paradise is is renowned for its vast river systems & spectacular wetlands 🌴 The park has a rich & diverse landscape, with grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, coastal estuaries, mangroves & mudflats even! You can also find sandstone hills & escarpments on the southern end of the park 😍 It’s also a place of local Aboriginal significance, with sites associated with occupation, ceremonies & stories of ancestral spirits found throughout the park 👣 

📸 @true.north.adventures #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Here’s to the mums that fill our lives with adventures in the tropics 🌺

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day? ✨🌴

📸 @megannamourr #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia
Here’s a cassowary joke for your morning - Why did the cassowary cross the road? 🤔 To prove he wasn’t a chicken 🐓😝

There’s not many places you can spot the elusive Southern Cassowary as you take a leisurely stroll down the street, but @tropicalnorthqueensland is one of them! 🏝 #EttyBay is one of the most popular spot to see cassowaries in the wild, they’ll often be seen wondering around near the beach 🙌 Did you know that there are approximately 700 plant species endemic to the @wettropicsworldheritage area? And almost 100 species that heavily depend on the cassowary to distribute their seeds 🌴😲

No wonder it’s called the Cassowary Coast 😉

📸 @copperdonkeyphoto #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #cassowarycoast
You've heard #CapeYork as a bucket-list 4WD journey, but have you considered heading to The Tip on a motorbike? 🏍This ultimate adventure with @capeyorkmotorcycles is the trip to do if you like to push the boundaries, get the adrenaline pumping & do things a little different 💪 Plus you’ll get some well deserved rest at stunning waterfalls you won’t find anywhere else! 🌴💦

📍 Fruit Bat Falls, Cape York 

📸 @phlipvids #exploreTNQ #explorecairnsGBR #thisisqueensland #seeaustralia #fruitbatfalls