CEO Column – 13 September 2017

Pip Close, TTNQ CEO

China Eastern Airlines is planning to return to Cairns with a seasonal service from Shanghai for the 2018 Chinese New Year. Subject to regulatory approval, China Eastern will operate three services per week during February 2018. We shall keep you posted if there is any change to this notification.

These flights are in addition to the scheduled China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines flights which both start in December and give our destination more than 48,000 seats direct from China each year.

The International Visitor Survey showed Chinese visitors to Tropical North Queensland declined slightly for the year ending June 2017, down 1.2% to 214,000. While China remains our largest source market and total international visitation from all markets grew by 4.5% to 898,000, this is the first time we have seen the Chinese market flatten after many years of strong double digit growth.

TTNQ and our partners have long argued that direct flights to Cairns in conjunction with campaigns positioning the region as a single-stop resort holiday destination are the only way forward for sustainable growth from the world’s fastest growing leisure market.

Now that we have direct flights we need to capitalise on the opportunities they bring by ensuring we as an industry are ready for increased numbers of Chinese travellers wanting to experience a greater variety of product and travel further throughout the region.

We are conducting an audit of our industry to see who is interested in working with the Chinese market and each product’s current level of capability in the lead-up to direct flights.

From this we will be able determine what training is needed for local operators to meet Chinese demand.

TTNQ is putting together a series of familiarisations for Chinese travel agents in coming months to ensure they are knowledgeable about our destination and products.

TTNQ’s marketing in China will focus on filling the seats that will be available direct to Cairns each year, however, we will continue to work hard in our traditional markets to ensure a balance for our destination.

The IVS showed our traditional markets are preforming well with an 8.2% increase in European visitors to 161,000, a 5.4% increase in Japanese visitors to 110,000, a 12.1% increase in New Zealand visitors to 48,000 and a 3.7% increase in North American visitors to 137,000. Visitors from the United Kingdom, where consumer confidence is low, declined 5.6% to 92,000.

Cheers
Pip