QUEENSLAND has become the first state in Australia to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with China Eastern Airlines, set to deliver a $22 million tourism boost to the state.
The service offers direct flights between Shanghai and Brisbane all year round, starting with three flights each week towards the end of next year.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the agreement came off the back of a meeting she had with China Eastern during a trade tour last month.
"This new service is a win for tourism, bringing approximately 36,500 additional travellers and generating more than $22 million for the economy each year," Palaszczuk says.
"It comes in addition to a seasonal China Eastern service between Shanghai and Cairns providing access for up to 13,000 visitors each year to Tropical North Queensland, the state's northern gateway to the Great Barrier Reef."
Chinese travellers represent Queensland's largest international visitor market by expenditure, spending more than $833 million in FY15 up 43 per cent compared to the previous year.
Tourism Research Australia forecasts China will overtake New Zealand as the country's most dominant tourist market within five years.
Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones signed the MOU in China and says the development will grow the state's Asian visitor market.
"We are determined to position Queensland to capitalise on this growth," Jones says.
"Working with airline partners to increase access into Queensland will inspire more visitors to come to the best address on earth, providing a boost to the economy and supporting local jobs.
"The historic agreement forges an even closer bond between the government, China Eastern and our sister-state Shanghai."
China Eastern Airlines senior executive Tian Liuwen says the MOU recognises the importance of bilateral relationships between Shanghai and Queensland.
"It will assist in further developing the Chinese tourism market to Queensland, and enhance China Eastern's presence in the Australian market," he says.
"Both China Eastern and the Queensland Government has pledged today to leverage on each other's resources to develop and sustain the existing route to Cairns and the new route to Brisbane.
"We would also explore the opportunities of seasonal services to holiday destinations in Queensland."
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