Industries that drive Cairns and the tropics are diverse, ranging from tourism and health through to agriculture and education.
Tropical fruits, sugar, coffee, fishing, grass-fed beef, free-range pork and dairy have long been part of the agriculture industry in Tropical North Queensland, while new exotic crops include cacao and vanilla. Food processing is also innovating with banana flour the newest food product in a region producing smoked meats, charcuterie and award-winning spirits.
Tourism management and training in environmentally sensitive areas is an area of expertise in Cairns & Great Barrier Reef. Innovative programs like the Savannah Guides and the Master Reef Guides provide focused training for guide interpretation in our World Heritage areas. Tour operators also assist in managing the environment they work in with scientific monitoring and by assisting in research.
Cairns has a thriving marine precinct, including 3 shipyards as well as HMAS Cairns naval base and Defence contractors. In addition to servicing the needs of defence, Cairns is home to a large and diverse marine sector that includes a world-renowned tourism reef fleet, commercial fishing and shipping and plays host to superyachts and cruise ships.
Cairns and the surrounding region have abundant renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and biomass. As a result of this resource the region has over 100 businesses operating in the renewable energy sector. The renewable energy industry includes household, commercial and industrial and utility scale project expertise.
Education and Training
Study tourism is a vital component of the local economy with international students choosing to study in a destination where they can enjoy a tropical lifestyle and explore World Heritage areas in their free time. Cairns has two universities – James Cook University and Central Queensland University – the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College and TAFE North. Apprenticeships, traineeships, industry-based training and courses for domestic and international students cover a wide range of topics and areas of expertise.
Aviation is an emerging sector for the region due to its strategic location in Asia Pacific and excellent infrastructure. Several international and national companies have major service centres in Cairns including Hawker Pacific, who are an official Bombardier service centre and have the larges avionics workshop in the southern hemisphere, and UK owned Cobham Aviation Services. Cairns Aviation Skills Centre and CQUniversity Aviation Campus are both located at Cairns Airport, delivering vocational and Bachelor Qualifications.
Tropical Health and Life Sciences
Tropical North Queensland is the ideal location for tropical forest science, biopharmaceuticals, tropical health, tropical foods and natural resource management. James Cook University, home of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, the Australian Tropical Forest Institute and the Australian Tropical Herbarium, conducts internationally acclaimed research encompassing public health, bimolecular, clinical, and translational health systems. Research is conducted across several James Cook University centres exploring key areas including tropical infectious diseases, health security and biosecurity, chronic disorders with high prevalence in the tropics, genetic diseases and health services in regional and remote communities.