The Sunshine Coast tourism industry is flying high following news Air New Zealand will extend its seasonal flights from Auckland for another three years after successful seasons in 2012 and 2013.
The Sunshine Coast will be aiming to boost leisure, business and conference travel over the four months that the direct international flights operate between June and October. A total of 42 return trips between Auckland and Sunshine Coast Airport (MCY) will be scheduled each year.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Jann Stuckey welcomed the airlines commitment to Queensland’s tourism industry.
“Over the next three years, Air New Zealand will increase the length of the annual seasons and frequency of the flights to the Sunshine Coast thanks to a successful partnership with the Sunshine Coast Airport, Tourism and Events Queensland and Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd,” Ms Stuckey said.
In 2013 the 17-week seasonal flights delivered 8,351 passengers, 85 per cent of which were New Zealanders.
“New Zealand is the Sunshine Coast’s largest international market representing around a quarter of all international visitors to the region or 52,000 travellers in the year to September 2013.”
Ms Stuckey said the Government had established an $8 million Attracting Aviation Investment fund to encourage more airlines like Air New Zealand to continue directing flights into Queensland.
“To support the Auckland-Sunshine Coast flights, Tourism and Events Queensland will continue to work with Air New Zealand and Sunshine Coast tourism industry partners to market the seasonal services,” she said.
“Tourism is one of the four pillars of the Queensland economy and increasing aviation access is key to helping the industry reach the goal of growing overnight visitor expenditure from $15 billion to $30 billion by 2020.”
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Cr Mark Jamieson said the new season announcements showed strong confidence in the value of the Auckland-Sunshine Coast route.
“I am very pleased to see Air New Zealand continuing to increase its investment in this substantial market for international tourism here,” Cr Jamieson said.
“The total direct expenditure in the region by visitors for the 2013 season was estimated to be $9 million, with the overall economic impact $22 million.
“The direct spend is anticipated to grow to $54 million over the next three years, with the overall economic impact estimated at $132 million.”
Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd CEO Simon Ambrose said the return of the direct service for a further three years was a real boost of confidence for the region and tourism industry as awareness of the route grew.