Cairns tourism is showing signs of a resurgence with Jetstar announcing it will ramp up its non-stop flights from Osaka, Japan, into Cairns with a daily service in August.
Advance Cairns chairman Cam Charlton said an increased aircraft capacity would boost confidence and demand in the ailing tourism sector. "The difficulties in Japanese markets have been in the volatility in aviation, high Australian dollar, natural disasters and the tsunami causing very major effects," he said. "Yes, there are some difficulties to overcome, but our destination has not diminished and with persistence I would expect very good rise in tourism numbers and I would hope that would be reasonably quickly."
The increase from four flights a week will add an extra 4500 seats a week coming into the Far North in time for the region’s peak tourism season. "Cairns is a very popular destination for inbound tourism from Japan and Jetstar is adding additional capacity for flights into Osaka to cater for demand," a Jetstar spokesman said.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Rob Giason said the extra flights were "sensational news". "It’s great to see that Jetstar have the confidence to put on these extra services," Mr Giason said. "Everyone here has been working the Japanese market hard and this gives us the opportunity to see if we can sustain the demand."
Mr Giason believes there is extra capacity in the Japanese market with TTNQ projections expecting a growth to 200,000 Japanese visitors to the region by 2015. "This will be a terrific boost to our industry and combined with Jetstar’s introduction of its Japanese domestic service Jetstar Japan in July it will give people the confidence they have been looking for," he said.
Before the daily services start in August, the low-cost airline will be increasing its flights on the route from four to five times a week between 22 April and 9 May and also from 23 July to 27 October either side of the daily schedule in August.
The increased flights come on the back of news that China Airlines flights carrying 300 passengers each will land in Cairns from Taipei on July 11 and 25, opening up new avenues with the Asian market. Cairns Airport’s management team has also been pushing the case for increased direct flights.
The team has been targeting the Chinese and Singapore markets and putting a strong business case to Virgin, for a Singapore connection, and with China Eastern and its Qantas alliance. Jetstar yesterday also announced the reintroduction of its Auckland-Cairns service on April 3. "Low fares are returning between Cairns and Auckland providing New Zealanders with an affordable option to escape to the sun of tropical north Queensland," a Jetstar spokesman said.
Seats on the route will be on offer for $229 one way for the three flights a week service.
Connections to Melbourne are also being ramped up with an extra four services a week starting April 1. However, services from Cairns to Darwin will be wound back to three flights a week from April 22.
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