Chinese visitors boost Far Northern tourism

THE number of Chinese visiting the Far North has almost doubled in a year, while the Japanese are almost back to pre global financial crisis levels, the latest data reveals.

The International Visitor Survey for the year ended September 2010 shows Chinese holiday makers are up by 81 per cent to 58,000 while the Japanese have almost topped 100,000 (98,000 and -1 per cent).

Overall, international holidaymakers to the region have grown by 1 per cent to total 612,000, up 6000 on 2009.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Rob Giason said the three priority markets of Japan, New Zealand and China had posted good results.

“The Chinese growth of 81 per cent supports our push for China Southern Airlines to fly direct into Cairns,” he said.

“Cairns should be their next Australian direct port.”

Mr Giason said the Japanese market had turned around since the resumption of flights between Osaka and Cairns in April 2010.

“They are coming back. It’s not been a year since the new flights in April and in six months since Osaka resumed the growth has been rapid.

“The Far North is leading the growth of the Japanese market in Queensland and Australia. In fact, we are providing the growth in Japanese numbers into Australia.

“Not so long ago Japanese numbers were down 20 to 30 per cent, now it’s just minus 1 per cent. By the end of the year we will be back in positive growth.

“They are also staying longer and spending more as visitor nights are up 24 per cent.”

Mr Giason said the region outperformed Queensland and Australia in holiday visitor growth from the New Zealand and Chinese markets.

Cairns Airport aviation business development general manager Rob Evans said the reintroduction of Jetstar’s direct Cairns-Osaka services four times a week had provided an additional 1212 inbound seats from western Japan.

“It is encouraging to see this convert into visitor numbers from this important source market and for the region to now be bucking the downward national trend for Japanese visitors,” he said.

“China continues to be enormously attracted to tropical North Queensland and we expect additional growth from this market with the introduction of China Southern’s three times weekly service to Brisbane direct from Guangzhou (Canton) and a strong Chinese New Year next February.

“The increase for New Zealand is a direct result from the introduction of Cairns-Auckland services by Pacific Blue in March and a very strong peak season performance by Air New Zealand, which was boosted by their aircraft upgrade to B767s.”

Source :  © The Cairns Post–10 Dec, 2010

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