They’re back: China’s long-lost tourists return to Brisbane

Chinese tourists learn to surf on the Gold Coast.

Chinese tourists learn to surf on the Gold Coast. Photo: AAP

A China Eastern Airlines flight from Shanghai touched down at Brisbane airport on Wednesday morning, ending a gap of three years, eight months and 21 days since a direct flight landed in Queensland from China.

A second airline, China Southern, will recommence flights later this month.

Before COVID-19 stopped tourism globally, about 1.4 million Chinese visited Australia each year, but it was expected that reaching that level may take some time.

The return of China Eastern was expected to deliver almost 41,000 inbound seats in the first year of operation.

It was expected to generate about $314 million through 181,014 inbound seats over the next three years.

Brisbane Airport Corporation chief executive Gert-Jan de Graaff said it was a landmark day for tourism.

“In just 17 days, we’ll see the return of our second Chinese airline. Both services will increase to daily flights from December in time for the peak travel season, so we’re forecasting China will likely regain its spot as Queensland’s No.1 source for inbound tourism income in 2024,’’ he said.

“This is big news for Brisbane, the Gold Coast and North Queensland.”

The return of China Eastern’s direct flights would also be a boost to exporters who would now have a direct path to market for all the high-quality fresh food sent to China’s quality-conscious consumers.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said China Eastern was strategically important for reconnecting Brisbane to Shanghai’s aviation hub to drive Queensland’s international tourism recovery, exports and support for good Queensland jobs.

“We know Chinese visitors love Queensland great lifestyle and world-class holiday experiences and will be crucial to our plan to build an $11 billion international visitor economy by the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Hinchcliffe said.

This article first appeared in InQueensland and is republished here with permission

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