There was a warm welcome for China Southern Airlines at Cairns Airport this morning as the first flight from Guangzhou to Cairns landed.
Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer, Norris Carter, said the airport was delighted to roll out the red carpet.
“China Southern’s Guangzhou flights provide convenient access to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef for people from China and other parts of Asia,” Mr Carter said. “They also open up the Canton Route for visitors to travel between Europe and Cairns via China Southern’s Guangzhou hub.”
“Currently more than 80% of international visitors to Cairns travel via other cities in Australia to get here. This new international flight means that more visitors will be able to fly directly into Cairns and spend more time here enjoying their holiday. Cairns locals also benefit from new international flight options to Asia, Europe and even North America.”
“Cairns Airport thanks the Queensland Government for supporting this service through the Advance Queensland Connecting with Asia fund, as well as our partners Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Australia, Cairns Regional Council and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.”
Louis Lu, Regional General Manager China Southern for Australia and New Zealand said China Southern is very proud to add Cairns as its latest direct service into Australia.
"Cairns and Tropical North Queensland is well known as a beautiful destination and these new flights will make it easier for Chinese visitors to access the Great Barrier Reef and all natural and man-made attractions in the region."
"China Southern Airlines has made an ongoing commitment to Australia since its first flights 20 years ago and Cairns is the latest destination in its global expansion."
China Southern Airlines is the fourth largest airline in the world as measured by passengers carried in 2016. It is also Asia's largest airline by fleet size and revenue earned. China Southern operates out of its hub in Guangzhou in China's South.
Mr Lu said the local Cairns community will have access to more than 200 destinations in the world by using the new service.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, said China Southern’s new Cairns service offers enormous tourism opportunities for Far North Queensland and Australia.
“This is a part of our country which ticks so many boxes for today’s increasingly inquisitive and confident Chinese traveller,” Mr Ciobo said.
“For the first time, they’ll have direct access to the reef and the rainforest, improving regional dispersal and connectivity.”
Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer Leanne Coddington welcomed this new route to Cairns.
“China is our most valuable and fastest growing international market and securing this new aviation route will have strong tourism outcomes for Queensland and Tropical North Queensland,” Ms Coddington said.
“We expect this new route to attract more than 33,000 Chinese visitors to Cairns in the first year alone.”
“This is now the quickest and most convenient route to enable our Chinese visitors to experience the Great Barrier Reef and all that Queensland has to offer.”
The Mayor of Cairns, Councillor Bob Manning, welcomes these new direct flights and the opportunities they bring to further enhance international access and showcase our region to Chinese travellers.
“China is our city’s largest and fastest growing tourism market. Chinese visitation to Cairns last year was almost triple that of 2010,” Mayor Manning said.
“The Tropical North’s natural attributes, quality accommodation and proximity to Asia position our region as a key attractor for Chinese travellers. These additional direct flights will make Cairns and its attractions even more accessible and is testament to the quality tourism product we have to offer.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Pip Close said China had become the destination’s largest source market of international travellers with 214,000 Chinese visitors staying an average of three nights and spending $102 million during 2016-17.
“China Southern’s 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,” Ms Close said.
“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 scheduled services.”