Chinese tourism to Cairns passes 100,000
THE Chinese are holidaying in the Far North in greater numbers, topping 100,000 for the first time.
According to the latest survey, 102,075 Chinese visited the Far North in the year to September 30, up 28,318 or a 38 per cent increase.
But the figures do not include the China Eastern direct flights from Shanghai that started at the end of October.
In other good signs there has been a minor rise in Japanese, up 1 per cent (from 91,141 to 91,743) and 5000 more than in the June quarter; the Americans are returning (79,977, up 6426); and New Zealanders are increasing (up 6079 to 45,547).
Tourism leaders say the Chinese figures back up the successful campaign for direct flights, which should boost numbers even more.
There were increases of 1000-5000 from Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Canada and France, while Hong Kong was steady.
But 15,133 fewer Britons visited and there were falls from Germany (down 3724), Scandinavia (2377), Italy (2406), the Netherlands (1547) Switzerland (1302) and other European destinations (9621).
In total 632,848 overseas travellers visited the region, up by 1 per cent or 5619 people.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Rob Giason said it was too early to ascertain how the direct flights were increasing numbers from China.
"We have a 35 per cent share of Chinese numbers (to Australia) and (38 per cent) growth is above the national average (24 per cent)," he said.
"It highlights Cairns is a very popular destination for the Chinese." The latest reports are that the return flights on China Eastern are going really well and the Chinese New Year is looking good.
Mr Giason said South Korea was an encouraging emerging market (up 2174 to 10,284).
"We expect more as Jetstar starts services from Japan to South Korea with connections to Cairns via Osaka. Also China Eastern from Shanghai and Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong, both with connections to Korea."
Cairns Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said the figures showed even stronger growth from China of 38 per cent than the 27 per cent recorded in the June quarter.
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Numbers rise: Chinese tourists enjoy a trip to the Reef near Cairns.