Virgin Australia to lift flight capacity linking QLD tourism hotspots with SA, Tasmania

Virgin Australia to lift flight capacity linking QLD tourism hotspots with SA, Tasmania

Noosa National Park. Photo: Matt Ogg

Virgin Australia is set to add almost 150,000 more seats in flights to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns from December through a partnership with the Queensland Government to support new air services.

The government estimates the new services will inject $53.7 million into struggling tourism businesses and create 420 jobs in the Sunshine State.

"We’ve partnered with Virgin to land new seasonal air services on the Gold Coast from Launceston and Hobart, three and four-times-a-week respectively," Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

"There’s also a new permanent service locked in for flights between Cairns and the Gold Coast," she said.

"And we’ve also partnered with Virgin to re-start their year-round Adelaide to Sunshine Coast service."

Destination Gold Coast CEO Patricia O’Callaghan said the three new services were a significant expansion to Virgin Australia’s Gold Coast route network.

“Our 4,600 tourism businesses are extremely keen to roll out the welcome mat to travellers who love to holiday and reconnect in our slice of paradise each year,” O’Callaghan said.

“We know holidaymakers are increasingly seeking to reconnect and spend quality time together and the Gold Coast is well placed to roll out the red carpet.

“Destination Gold Coast is proud to support this initiative and we know that as the tourism sector continues to recover, expanding the Gold Coast’s aviation footprint will be critical to rebuilding the visitor economy.”

Queensland Airports Limited CEO Chris Mills said the new Gold Coast services would start during what was usually the peak tourism season as travel nationally started to ramp up.

Sunshine Coast Airport CEO, Andrew Brodie, said he was thrilled Virgin hds decided to commence the Adelaide to Sunshine Coast route year-round.

"The introduction of services will cater to the significant pent up travel demand from travellers keen to explore the appeal of our beaches, hinterland and fresh produce in both peak and shoulder holiday seasons," Brodie said.

Virgin Australia confirmed yesterday it would start the Sunshine Coast-Adelaide route on 14 December, while the flights connecting the Gold Coast with Tasmanian cities are scheduled to take off early in December.

"We’re proud to be supporting local communities, including the hundreds of tourism operators, hospitality venues and business owners on the Sunshine Coast and in South Australia who depend on tourism and who have done it tough through the pandemic," Virgin Australia group chief commercial officer Alistair Hartley said.

"Virgin Australia is proud to be the first airline to connect Launceston and the Gold Coast in two decades.

"From December up to 4,224 passengers each month can now enjoy the Gold Coast’s spectacular beaches and theme parks and visit Launceston’s lavender estate and the wine region of Tamar Valley."

Virgin Australia's Alistair Hartley added the airline would waive all applicable change fees and allow for unlimited changes to bookings for travel between now and 28 February 2022.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has today announced a $3 million holiday voucher scheme designed to boost Tasmanian tourism, with $300 vouchers ($200 for accommodation and $100 for attractions or tours) available for up to 10,000 residents of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland who book their holiday in Tasmania for November and December.

"A recent Tourism Australia Travel Sentiment Tracker found 59 per cent of Australians want to take a holiday in the next six months," Federal Minister or Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said.

"Pent-up demand combined with this innovative voucher program represents a fantastic opportunity for Tasmanian tourism to welcome back visitors and give local businesses and the economy a much-needed boost.

"Australians want to travel again so they can visit family and friends and take a holiday, in places like Tasmania. All Australians can help to make that a reality by getting vaccinated so we can reach our 80 per cent vaccination targets to trigger the resumption of travel."

Senator for Tasmania Jonno Duniam said Tasmania had been a significant beneficiary of the Commonwealth's Recovery for Regional Tourism program, with $13.5 million allocated to projects to support the state's tourism sector.

I welcome this great initiative from Tourism Tasmania to give visitors yet another reason to visit Tasmania in the lead-up to the traditional summer holiday period,” Senator Duniam said.

“Australians are keen to get travelling again and Tasmania is open for business.

“There has never been a better time to come down to Tassie, visit some of our incredible natural wonders and taste some of our fabulous food, wine and whisky.”

Tourism Tasmania CEO John Fitzgerald said the COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and NSW had significantly impacted Tasmanian tourism businesses.

“These markets provide around 70 per cent of all visitors to the state,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“This program will provide much-needed support for the Tasmanian industry in a crucial period.”

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