Australian city of Cairns secures direct flights to China

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-07-03 14:00

SYDNEY — Australia's tropical north is celebrating a tourism windfall on Monday, with the announcement that China Southern Airlines will operate three flights per week direct from Guangzhou to Cairns.

"In the first year we expect these flights to bring more than 33,000 Chinese visitors to Tropical North Queensland, which in turn flows on to the local economy and supports jobs across the region," Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

"In fact the tens of thousands of new Chinese tourists coming into Cairns are forecast to be worth more than $30 million in overnight visitor expenditure in our region in the first year alone."

State treasurer Curtis Pitt described the announcement of the new flights as a "game-changer" for Queensland.

"This is great news for tourism and jobs in the Far North," Pitt said.

"It's the first time we've ever been able to offer direct access to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef from China."

The deal was made possible by the State's Advance Queensland: Connecting with Asia Strategy, which aims to inject A$90 million ($69.21 million) into the economy of the tropical north.

As part of the tourism investment to boost the growth of Chinese visitors in the state, Queensland's government has spent A$33.5 million ($25.75 million), a figure that private industry groups have also matched.

"We welcome the Queensland government's support through its Connecting with Asia fund, and we look forward to rolling out the red carpet for China Southern's first flight in December," Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Norris Carter said.

Local Member of Parliament Craig Crawford also echoed these sentiments.

"We know Chinese visitors love the tropical north and the unique tourism experiences on offer, especially the Reef, but flights have been a hassle," Crawford said.

"These direct flights into Cairns remove the complexity of connecting flights, which puts Cairns on a competitive pegging with destinations like Hawaii and Bali."

The first flights are expected to land in Cairns before the end of 2017.

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