THE much-anticipated turnaround in the dwindling Japanese tourism market has arrived on our shores.
The numbers speak for themselves – 4100 more passengers from Japan passed through Brisbane Airport in February than the same time last year. The figure represents a 30.8 per cent increase on the previous corresponding period.
It is the first time in a decade the yearon-year comparison showed growth in the volume of Japanese choosing Queensland as their travel destination.
“It is great to see the Gold Coast still resonates so well among the Japanese people,” says Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter.
“In particular, we have seen a considerable amount of corporate incentive travel out of Japan, which is very encouraging.”
Brisbane Airport CEO and managing director Julieanne Alroe reveals the statistics show promising signs of recovery after a significant downturn in visitors following the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Growth in Japanese visitors to Brisbane, many of whom visit the Gold Coast, considerably exceeds the national yearon-year growth rate of 2.1 per cent as of January.
Winter is upbeat that 2012 will also be a record year for Chinese visitors to the Coast. Travel partners in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou have already reported strong bookings for the rest of the year.
“Recently, Gold Coast Tourism secured the first Chinese charter flight into Gold Coast Airport. On board the China Southern Airlines flight were 300 of some of China’s most influential airline and travel industry bosses and a commitment to China – Gold Coast direct flights within three years,” he says.
“The Gold Coast’s attraction is universal; we offer a diverse, accessible and uniquely Australian natural environment, which ticks many boxes for the time-poor Chinese traveller.”
There are other bright spots in this long depressed and battered sector. Singapore Airlines-owned Scoot Airlines will launch discount flights between the Coast and the island city-state by late June 2012.
Five direct flights will operate daily with potential to add a further 104,000 visitors and inject $65 million into the economy annually.
Qantas Airways has separately established a 50:50 Jetstar Hong kong joint venture with Shanghai-based China Eastern. The carrier will fly in conjunction with Japan Airlines and partners Jetstar Japan later this year. Two direct flights operate daily between the Gold Coast and Narita.
“Securing direct flights into the Gold Coast from South East Asia has been a key objective of Gold Coast Tourism over the past couple of years,” says Winter.
“Access is vital in the international tourism market and in our region there is no better access than to be directly connected to the global networks which Singapore, Japan and China deliver.”
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