QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk addresses AmCham
Article by Felicity Caldwell, originally published here.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says tourism operators in Queensland’s north do not want any more flights into Cairns.
“Our state is booming in the area of tourism,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“It’s quite ironic that when I travel up to Cairns I have people saying to me, through our aviation attraction fund, ‘don’t send us any more flights at the moment, we actually need more product, we need more hotels built’.”
Ms Palaszczuk made the comments while addressing an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia breakfast on Friday.
But Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said operators would always welcome more flights into the state’s north.
“The tour operators are, I think, well and truly ready to take more people out to the reef … to [make] the effort to make indigenous products more available and accessible in north Queensland,” he said.
“We’re ready for more visitors.
“I can’t imagine them turning any flights away.”
Mr Gschwind said it took a long time to bring new flights into a region.
“We can never let go of our efforts to engage with airlines around the world to bring them to our destinations, it’s not something you can just turn on and off,” he said.
Ms Palaszczuk said people in the US and Chinese market were saying Queensland needed more “higher-end product” and luxury options.
“There is a growing demand for people to have luxury experiences and it’s something that Queensland is lacking at the moment,” she said.
“But I know that we can work together to achieve that.”
Mr Gschwind agreed that new products and accommodation were also important.
“If we do have more flights, that will accelerate and stimulate more investment in product and accommodation as well,” he said.
“It is sort of a chicken and egg proposition, of course, you need both – you need the product and accommodation but you also need the pipeline of flights.”
Ms Palaszczuk said she hosted a gathering of tourism operators in the US recently and they told her customers wanted to spend big bucks in the Sunshine State.
“They’ve had people come into them and saying, ‘We’d like to spend $200,000 to take our family from the US to spend a month in Australia, can you put a package together?'”
“And they’re scrambling to put that together.
“[There’s] a huge demand at that high end that we’re not actually catering for at the moment but at the general end, the tourism numbers are spectacular.”
Mr Gschwind said there were plenty of operators who would love to take $200,000 from an international family.
“I think most operators, once they recovered from the surprise that somebody wants to spend that much on a family trip, they would be more than willing to make provisions for that,” he said.
“We do have some exceptional experiences that can be made available, whether that’s extremely remote places, whether that is very intimate personalised encounters with wildlife, perhaps with indigenous cultural experiences, certainly that can be done.
“And we have some outstanding accommodation products, including within reach of Cairns.
“There’s a number of properties in the natural settings near Cairns that are pricey, but they’re certainly very, very special.”
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls described Ms Palaszczuk’s comments on flights into Cairns as “simply staggering”.
“Cairns tourism operators would never turn their backs on more tourists,” Mr Nicholls said.
Mr Gschwind said visiting celebrities, such as Adele and Justin Bieber, did wonders for the Queensland tourism industry.
“If we have well-heeled or perhaps famous people, celebrities who seek out and can afford these special places, that inevitably will also draw in everybody else and certainly stimulate their interest and stimulate the market more generally,” he said.
“People do feel inspired and then want to sort of copy what others do and they want to take their own selfies in these places where celebrities have taken theirs.”
Ms Palaszczuk said there were 2.6 million international visitors travelled to Queensland in 2016, a 28 per cent increase on the number of tourists visiting the state in the past four years.
Following the election of US President Donald Trump, Ms Palaszczuk said she hoped the US “continues to look outward”.
“Our relationship with the US is growing from strength to strength,” she said.
Ms Palaszczuk is due to launch a trade and investment strategy next week with Treasurer Curtis Pitt.
You can see more photos from this event on our Facebook page – hit ‘Like’ to get our updates direct to the platform you use most.