Cairns business leaders have been pinning their hopes on a surge in Chinese tourism for a while now, and they remain confident according to a Cairns Post report from yesterday (Could Cairns be on the cusp of a Chinese tourism boom?):
Cairns Airport chief executive Kevin Brown said Cairns had only “begun to scratch the surface in developing and servicing the Chinese tourism and business market.”
“There is huge potential for our region,” Mr Brown will tell the January 29 Cairns Airport Chinese New Year Yum Cha Business Event.
“We had direct China Eastern flights from Shanghai in place for most of 2013 and even without direct flights the Chinese visitor market shows strong growth trends with people willing to reach our destination via domestic services from other parts of Australia.
“Chinese New Year looks set to attract around 20,000 visitors into the region with many arriving on the China Eastern services as well as China Southern and Cathay Pacific charters.”
It may be that Chinese New Year gives a temporary boost to tourism, but I’m unsure if it will have any long-term impact. Chinese tourism in Australia has certainly grown impressively in recent years, but has started to decline in recent months, as covered by Pete Faulkner:
Furthermore, airport passenger numbers at Cairns airport don’t appear to suggest a tourism boom is in the making in Cairns. Here’s a nice chart from the latest CairnsWatch publication produced by Rick Carr of Herron Todd White Cairns, showing a decline in international terminal passenger numbers and reasonable but unspectacular growth in domestic terminal passenger numbers at Cairns Airport:
Mark Beath at Loose Change is also keeping an eye on Cairns airport passenger numbers:
So it may be overly optimistic to expect a Chinese tourism boom for Cairns, given recent data haven’t been very encouraging.