'We've got plenty of capacity' in Cairns
A leading hotel general manager has sent a message to the Queensland Premier following her comments that appeared to cast doubt about attracting new flights into Cairns: there is plenty of room for more tourists in Cairns.
Shangri-La Hotel general manager Nic O'Donnell has joined the chorus of disappointment about Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's comments about aviation access in TNQ.
In a speech to a business breakfast in Brisbane yesterday, the Premier said: "It's quite ironic that when I travel up to Cairns I have people saying to me, through our Aviation Attraction Fund, 'don't send us any more flights at the moment, we actually need more product, we need more hotels built."
MORE FLIGHTS ALWAYS WELCOMED
Mr O'Donnell flatly rejected the idea that local operators would suggest new flights weren't currently welcomed in Cairns.
"The tourism industry in the Far North has performed very well over the last 18 months, on the back of the Australian dollar, our continued reputation as a safe destination, and the improved air access – mainly on the International sectors," he told TropicNow.
"I doubt you will find a tourism operator anywhere in the region that will be complaining of needing to turn away business.
"There are ample beds available with any accommodation provider in the first six months of the year, which means spare seats on dive boats, tour buses, rafting tours, and many of the other fantastic operations in the area.
"In the second half of the year, it is busier – but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bed.”
TropicNow is currently seeking follow-up comment from the Premier.
Other local tourism sector players echoed Mr O'Donnell's sentiments.
Tourism consultant Ron Livingston earlier said the Premier’s comments were “patently nonsense”.
“I’ve never heard any tourism operators up here suggesting anything of the sort,” Mr Livingston said.
“We’ve had three major hotel developments approved, we’ve got an aquarium opening soon, we’ve got accommodation providers refurbishing like there’s no tomorrow, we’ve got people operating hand-over-fist.
“Is she just trying to pursue her own agenda of pushing flights to Southeast Queensland rather than here?”
Labor's Cairns candidate Michael Healy said he appreciated there might be "some angst" about the Premier's comments.
"Whilst I appreciate there may be some angst around the Premier's wording in relation to this matter, the simple fact is we have never had more aircraft landing than we do at the moment in Cairns and The Palaszczuk Government have been key in that result," he wrote in a statement.
"In addition to this fact, the Attracting Asia Aviation Fund of which Cairns was the first region to secure confirmed funding by the Palasczczuk Government will result in more flights arriving into Cairns in the future."
Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind was more forthright in response to the Premier's comments, telling the Brisbane Times that TNQ operators were ready for more visitors.
“I can't imagine them turning any flights away," he said. "We can never let go of our efforts to engage with airlines around the world to bring them to our destinations, it's not something you can just turn on and off.”