The hunt is on for an airline to replace Cathay Pacific
The Douglas Chamber of Commerce today said the Queensland State Government’s decision to partner with Cairns Airport and Cairns Regional Council to test the market for a new airline is in line with the Tourism 2020 Plan.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones has announced an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process for a new airline to transport freight and tourists between Tropical North Queensland and Asia.
“The process will see us actively engage with airlines keen to fly between Tropical North Queensland and key trade and tourism hubs in Asia.
“We know this region boasts some of the most iconic tourism experiences on the planet. But we also recognise the importance of the Tropical North as a trade hub for Queensland – particularly given our commitment to strengthen trade ties in southeast Asia,” she said.
This is one of many initiatives to counter Cathay Pacific’s decision to discontinue their Cairns to Hong Kong route after 25 years’ service.
Douglas Chamber president Liz Ross said under the government’s Tourism 2020 plan, one of the strategic areas was identifying the importance of the Asian market and growing that part of the economic pie.
“So what is happening is in line with the plans and projections. In the 2020 plan it states that ‘Asia is expected to contribute to more than half of the projected growth in international visitation with 42 per cent of that growth expected to come from China’.”
The Executive Officer of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, Tara Bennett, said this is excellent news for all of Tropical North Queensland.
“Cairns Airport is the gateway to the region with added aviation access presenting opportunities to expand our markets and boost visitation.
“The very best outcome for the Douglas region would be securing an Asian carrier that links through to the UK and Europe with a global airline alliance,” she said
The EOI process will test the market and allow airlines to put forward proposals to the government.
It will be assessed based on the proposed frequency, route and duration of flights, ability to shift in the order of 60 tonnes of freight a week and a range of other factors important to both the tourism, aquaculture, and agriculture industries.
The freight component will predominantly be live seafood, some of which requires dangerous goods certification, plus other agricultural produce and general freight.
Ms Ross said tourism, as we know it, is extremely important not only to the Australian economy, but given where Cairns and Port Douglas are located, it makes sense that the destination would be supported for not only the appeal of the destinations, but our closeness to Asia.
“We need to keep on growing our market share. We also need to ensure that our products are the best they can be.
“And along with continued investment in infrastructure, including building our digital capacity to connect with countries like China is also important. We are, after all, a tourism area,” she said.
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