TTNQ commenced operations in the 1960’s with the formation of the Cairns Regional Development Bureau, which later became the Far North Queensland Development Bureau (FNQDB).  This operation included the formation of a Visitor Information Centre.  In 1978 the organisation changed its name to the Far North Queensland Promotion Bureau Ltd (FNQPBL).  The FNQPBL set up the Cairns Airport Development Committee which resulted in local ownership of the Cairns Airport and its upgrading to receive direct international flights. Following the opening of Cairns International Airport in 1984 visitor numbers increased dramatically, which set off a development boom in the region.

By the early 1980’s, the shire councils became major financial contributors to the tourism marketing.  In recognition of the importance of tourism to the region, the Cairns Regional Council (then the Cairns City Council), Cairns Airport (then the Cairns Port Authority), Ergon Energy and Tourism Queensland (TQ) also became corporate sponsors in 1996.

A convention and incentives unit was formed as the region’s official convention bureau, named Cairns & Region Convention Bureau, and in August 2009, became known as Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef (BECGBR) to be in line with the national body, Business Events Australia and other similar entities.

In 1997, following a major re-branding exercise undertaken in conjunction with TQ and the then Australian Tourist Commission (ATC), the organisation’s trading name became Tourism Tropical North Queensland – the registered company name remains the Far North Queensland Promotion Bureau Ltd. At this time, the marketing name for the destination became “Tropical North Queensland”, and this continues to be the case today and although this is the glue that represents the region, due to the strong sub-brands, the organisation will position any future communications as Cairns & Great Barrier Reef.  

Since 1998, TTNQ has hosted the annual TNQ Tourism Awards in order to formally recognize outstanding achievements within the region’s tourism industry.