Korean tourists Nuri Kim and Su Yeon take a guided snorkel tour on Moore Reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises. The number of Korean visitors to the region rose by 62.8 per cent in the past 12 months. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Korean tourists Nuri Kim and Su Yeon take a guided snorkel tour on Moore Reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises. The number of Korean visitors to the region rose by 62.8 per cent in the past 12 months. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Tourist spending climbs over $1b in FNQ

Cairns' tourism industry may be struggling, but new figures suggest one market has given the region a much-needed boost.

Tourism operators across the region continue to struggle after a prolonged wet season, issues with airline capacity and other economic factors.

But new data released as part of the International Visitor Survey showed the 849,000 tourists who visited FNQ in the 12 months to March had provided a 2.7 per cent increase on spending than the year before.

Korean tourists Nuri Kim and Su Yeon take a guided snorkel tour on Moore Reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises. Asian tourism is growing in Cairns, with Chinese, Japanese and Koreans in particular eager to snorkel and dive on the Great Barrier Reef. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Korean tourists Nuri Kim and Su Yeon take a guided snorkel tour on Moore Reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises. Asian tourism is growing in Cairns, with Chinese, Japanese and Koreans in particular eager to snorkel and dive on the Great Barrier Reef. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Cairns MP Michael Healy said it showed the city was attracting the "right kind of international visitor".

"This is one of the worst starts to the season this region has ever experienced," he said.

"We're committed to growing this sector and attracting visitors who stay longer and spend more in Tropical North Queensland."

Chinese visitor numbers were rated as "steady" with a 0.7 per cent increase to 206,000 people in the 12 months to March 2019.

There were strong growths in other markets, particularly Korea (17,000, up 62.8 per cent), Canada (up 20.6 per cent to 26,000) and the United States which grew by 7.5 per cent to a record 116,000 visitors.

Visiting friends and relatives was a key reason for many people to come to the Far North and accounted for 799,000 nights.

Overseas tourists disembark from tourism operator boats that visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park on day trips from the Marlin Marina in Cairns. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Overseas tourists disembark from tourism operator boats that visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park on day trips from the Marlin Marina in Cairns. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE


Mr Healy said partnering with airlines was an important part of the government's strategy.

Cathay Pacific announced last month it would end a 25-year relationship with Cairns in October with civic leaders desperate for another major airline to link up with the city.

"We're in positive discussions with airlines about securing more direct flights to grow the visitor market in Cairns," Mr Healy said.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the figures revealed Queensland's total visitor expenditure was up 8.6 per cent year-on-year.

International visitor expenditure reached a record high in Queensland in the year ending March 2019, with 2.7 million overseas travellers spending a record $6 billion.



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