LOCAL businesses can benefit from a changing demographic among Asian tourists now heading to Queensland on popular low-cost international flights.
Scoot Airlines began flying into the Gold Coast from Singapore in June and the company’s general manager (Australia) Darren Wright says inbound-flights are now dominated by families from China’s emerging cashed-up middle class.
“Inbound from China we are carrying more family groups. It’s middle China, middle income earners who often bring their nanny and maybe a grandparent as well to experience Australia for the first time,’’ says Wright.
“They are coming because the fares are cheap for them. They would usually go to Europe, but they start looking towards the Gold Coast because it is a destination they want to come to.”
Wright says demand for seats into the Gold Coast is rising. Scoot has carried about 200,000 people into Sydney and Gold Coast in less than six months.
“The average load has been about 80-85 per cent. In September we closed at 87 per cent, so we are above budget and in October we are looking pretty strong,” says Wright.
Scoot joined Air Asia X and Jetstar as low-cost carriers flying from the Gold Coast directly into Asia when it began flying in June.
Scoot operates from its Singapore hub, which is connected to China through three cities, Shenyang, Quingdao and Tianjin. It also flies to Taiwan, Thailand and Japan.
Wright says Australian business travellers have been taking seats on outbound services to Asian destinations.
“Those travelling in our ScootBiz seats are often business development managers, or importers, or some small manufacturers who are getting up into China,” he says.
Wright grew up on the Gold Coast and went to Benowa High School. Before joining Scoot, he was Air Asia X general manager when it first arrived at Coolangatta.
He says he has noticed many changes on the Gold Coast since Air Asia X began flying into the city and says businesses have to continue to change and adapt to ensure they capitalise on growing Asian interest in the region.
“Things like understanding the Muslim culture, accepting Halal practices and offering different meals are important,’’ he says.
Photo courtesy of James Morgan.
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