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  • Renee Cluff

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    Cairns Mayor: Suspension of China flights means ‘something’s not clicking’ in tourism

     The Mayor of Cairns Regional Council says the Tropical North Queensland tourism industry needs to have a long, hard look at why China Southern Airlines has suspended its service to Cairns, to ensure more carriers are not lost.

    The airline has announced flights from Guangzhou to Cairns will be suspended from late April until at least October as it reviews international routes.

    Cr Bob Manning told Tropic Now it could be a symptom of a wider problem.

    “At its most simplistic level, there are 1.5 billion people in China and 20 million in the Guangzhou region - almost the population of Australia - and we can’t fill up three flights a week out of there,” he said.

    “Something’s not clicking.

    “We need to sit down, look at this carefully and forensically and make sure we do whatever we need to do to reinstate the service and reassure other airlines.”

    The Mayor said next week’s one-hour round table of industry leaders and the Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones, will only scratch the surface of what can be done to turn the situation around.

    “Over the past 15 to 20 years, where we’ve come from in regards to international inbound and where we are today is a bit of a sad story,” he said.

    “We need to look at why this is happening, the industry needs to have a good hard think and talk within the family and we need to talk with the airlines about issues including marketing and branding, how we operate in the market place and what markets we’re going to concentrate on.”

    “We obviously need to reset this in some way and I assure that the industry will be meeting in Cairns quite a bit over the next period.”

    When asked whether negative publicity surrounding the Great Barrier Reef could be a contributing factor, Cr Manning was hesitant to place sole blame.

    “The Reef is one of the great natural wonders of the world and I know it’s been getting a bad rap for a little while and how we handle that into the future has got to be looked at,” he said.

    “But I don’t think it’s that simple because The Reef has been regarded in all this time as the greatest natural attraction on earth, David Attenborough said the Great Barrier Reef is his favourite spot in the world and David Attenborough will do me.”