Cairns Airport will come alive today in a welcome like no other with the long awaited return of interstate visitors after months of reduced capacity and interstate travel restrictions.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland have teamed up with Cairns Airport to show a special welcome to travellers arriving on the first interstate flight into Cairns, featuring a special taste of the Tropical North with the Minjil Indigenous dancers, Nemo, Dory, some wandering animal mascots and a water salute to welcome the arriving interstate visitors.
Standing one large cassowary apart, Cairns Airport CEO Norris Carter and Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen will greet the guests alongside members of the tourism industry.
The Far North has been one of the least affected coronavirus regions in the country and Cairns Airport and tourism operators have been working hard to ensure everyone arriving in Cairns does so with confidence.
Mr Carter said today marks the reactivation and return of interstate tourism and is a very welcome sign that that the region is poised for a return.
“This week we’ll see 20,000 passengers travel through the terminal and that’s a tenfold increase in passenger numbers since early June. Cairns Airport is well and truly open for business and we look forward to seeing this growth continue.”
“Today’s is an important day for our industry’s recovery. Every traveller is important not only to the airlines that fly them here, but to all the businesses across the airport, and the wider tourism community. Many businesses have been really hit hard and it’s great to see them open today,” Mr Carter said.
On Sunday the first flight from Brisbane Airport’s new runway will land in Cairns carrying interstate travel media eager to experience post-COVID tourism on a familiarisation organised by Virgin Australia and TTNQ.
Mr Olsen said the first interstate flight was a significant step in the pathway to recovery for the Cairns region which generated $3.5 billion into the regional economy in the 12 months before borders closed.
“COVID has cost the region $1 billion in visitor expenditure to date and that figure could be as high as $2.2 billion by December” Mr Olsen said.
“We hope interstate visitors wanting to feel temperatures above 20C will fly into Cairns to explore the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest and the accessible outback. Our small population base and wide open spaces make the Cairns region a highly desirable holiday destination for people wanting to leave the crowds of the cities behind.”
In the 12 months before borders closed the region had 332,000 visitors from New South Wales, which was a 25 percent increase from the previous 12 months, showing that interest in the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region is high.
“Cairns and Great Barrier Reef is where you can swim with turtles, see cassowaries in the world’s oldest rainforest and dine on extraordinary regional produce in beautiful tropical resorts” Mr Olsen said.
Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia will operate 26 return flights from Sydney per week operating from Friday, with other services set to resume as border restrictions are released and demand picks up.
Cairns Airport has just completed its $55m Domestic Terminal upgrade and an $18m runway overlay in time for the return of interstate flights.