Chinese visitors dispersed beyond Cairns during the 2018 Chinese New Year with the tourism industry reporting that many independent travellers were supporting their businesses.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Pip Close said some operators reported up to 40 per cent independent Chinese travellers, which is much higher than the 30 per cent anticipated by earlier research.
“Many said they were experiencing increases in Chinese travellers of up to 13 per cent from the previous New Year,” she said.
“Businesses that installed online payment solutions in time for the New Year said they had increased sales with customers actively seeking to shop, dine and tour using online payment solutions.
“Car rental companies reported that more Chinese hired cars this year to explore our region further which is a boost for smaller businesses beyond Cairns city.
“Our operators’ experiences are backed by Cairns Airport figures for February showing international passengers increased by 21 per cent to 60,910 and domestic passengers increased by 9 per cent to 305,200.
“During Chinese New Year, accommodation in the city was close to capacity, especially at the five-star hotels, with a number of apartments and mid-range hotels also reporting strong Chinese figures.
“Across the Cairns area there was 86.1 per cent occupancy, up 4.6 per cent from the previous February, while Palm Cove showed the greatest increase with a 19.3 per cent boost to occupancy bringing it to 53.1 per cent, and Port Douglas had 35.1 per cent occupancy, an increase of 4.3 per cent.
“Occupancy across Tropical North Queensland was up 5.6 per cent to 68.6 per cent and the revenue per available room also grew across the region, up 17.9 per cent to $106 a night.
“Following Chinese New Year, TTNQ hosted a successful China inbound agent training workshop which provided opportunities for operators to train both frontline staff and hold one-on-one discussions with product managers.
“Direct flights from China have delivered the busy Chinese New Year we anticipated, and we will continue to work in this market with our partners to increase these services and grow Chinese visitation to encourage dispersal further throughout Tropical North Queensland.
“There were 20 operators and 20 agents, plus Tourism and Events Queensland and Tourism Australia attending the event with China Southern Airlines presenting to the group.
“In addition, more than 40 Chinese media and Premier Aussie Trade specialists have toured the region over the past month visiting Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Mission Beach, Kuranda, Atherton Tablelands, Port Douglas, Mossman, Chillagoe, Undara and Palm Cove.”