While Queensland and all Australia breathed a sigh of relief after Unesco decided not to list the Great Barrier Reef as endangered, Ciarns had an additional reason to celebrate: the arrival of the first SilkAir service from Singapore.
The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) was among the first in the industry to welcome the Unesco World Heritage Committee’s draft recommendation for the Great Barrier Reef, retaining its world heritage listing.
“Listing the Great Barrier Reef as ‘in danger’ would have substantially damaged the local tourism industry,” TTF chief executive Margy Osmond said.
“The Great Barrier Reef is an Australian icon, attracting millions of visitors and generating more than AUD 6 billion in economic activity every year.
“Countless numbers of businesses and employees depend on the health and viability of the Great Barrier Reef for their livelihood.
“A ‘danger’ listing for Great Barrier Reef would have been a black mark for the icon, potentially discouraging visitors to the region and depriving tourist operators of work.
“It also would have ignored the amazing work that has been done by the Federal and Queensland Governments to protect this unique natural asset.
“I commend the Federal and Queensland Governments, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, for their efforts to protect and manage and the health of the Great Barrier Reef. This includes developing the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and introducing measures such as the banning the disposal of capital dredge material.
“Huge strides have been made to continue protecting the Reef, and tourism operators will welcome UNESCO’s draft decision,” she said.
MEANWHILE, Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt turned out on the tarmac at Cairns International Airport to welcome passengers disembarking SilkAir flight MI828, the first into Cairns.
Aboard the flight were 19 senior airline executives and a team of international journalists, signalling what Pitt called the start of a new aviation chapter for Tropical North Queensland.
“This exciting announcement will open the door to a potential 20,000 extra travellers into Cairns every year,” Pitt said.
“From today, SilkAir will fly three times a week between Singapore and Cairns offering both Business and Economy Class cabins on its latest Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
“This linkage with Singapore will better connect travellers from throughout Asia, India, the UK and Europe into Cairns, which we expect to generate up to AUD 14 million in visitor expenditure in Cairns in the first year.
“Cairns is the only regional city in Australia SilkAir is flying into so we’ll be continuing to work with the airline on international marketing initiatives to build capacity.”
The Treasurer represented Tourism Minister Kate Jones at the event who said Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) had worked in partnership with SilkAir to promote the new route in key Asian and European visitor markets.
“Promotions have appeared across digital, print, radio, social media and outdoor advertising, featuring holiday packages to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Jones said.
“TEQ have also organised tours throughout the region for trade partners and media to explore the destination once the first service arrives at Cairns Airport.
“The groups will experience a ‘walkabout tour’ in Palm Cove, a visit to Cairns Tropical Zoo and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, as well as venturing inland to the Atherton Tablelands and out to the Great Barrier Reef among other things.
“Initiatives such as this boost Queensland’s international appeal, showcasing Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef as a premier holiday destination.”
Cairns Airport Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brown said the connectivity with Singapore that the new SilkAir service provides will be a great boost for the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef destination.
Edited by Peter Needham