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$600k campaign for Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Coast airports

written by Adam Thorn | November 20, 2020

Tourism Whitsundays has launched a new $600,000 ad campaign to encourage tourists to fly into the region’s two airports.

The promotion, created in collaboration with Tourism and Events Queensland, Hamilton Island and Whitsunday Coast Airport, features local Karen Jacobsen, the Australian voice behind Apple’s Siri.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Tash Wheeler said she believes aviation has the ability to increase visitor numbers and also the length of stay.

“This campaign will also assist in combatting the misconception from southerners that The Whitsundays is a difficult region to get to,” said Wheeler. “We have two airports right here in the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, both offering several direct flights weekly. Getting here could not be easier and more convenient.

“As restrictions around borders continue to ease the campaign is ready to be rolled into different markets. First, it will hit the Brisbane market, then onto Sydney and Melbourne when the time is right.”

The Whitsundays is currently best reached by two local airports.


Great Barrier Reef Airport, on Hamilton Island, is serviced by Virgin, Jetstar and Qantas Link with daily flights from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Whitsunday Coast Airport, meanwhile, is located near Proserpine, around 25 minutes to Airlie Beach. The airport is currently serviced by Virgin, Jetstar and Alliance.

Virgin and Jetstar offer daily flights from Brisbane and connecting flights from other cities while Alliance provides direct services from Brisbane three times per week.

Whitsunday Coast Airport chief operating officer Craig Turner said, “It is crucial for our tourism stakeholders that we get the borders open and have direct flights to and from our key domestic markets Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

“This campaign will drive more visitors, which equates to more bums on seats and more flights, so we are looking forward to 2021 delivering positive growth for The Whitsundays.”

Last month, Australian Aviation exclusively revealed how Queensland’s decision to reshut its border to NSW caused Brisbane Airport to accept more than twice as many passengers per month as Sydney.

The knock-on effect of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s restrictions meant Brisbane clocked up 324,188 total passengers in August versus Sydney’s 129,000.

Significantly, the Queensland capital’s numbers were down only slightly from July (358,537) whereas the NSW capital’s collapsed 60 per cent (from 317,000).

“Brisbane is currently the busiest airport in the nation due to strong intrastate travel and an increase in domestic tourism,” said Australian Airports Association chief executive James Goodwin.

Queensland opened up to NSW on 10 July but closed to Sydney on 1 August and then to all of NSW and the ACT just a week later. As the NSW-Victoria border shut earlier on 6 July, the figures suggest Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s decision was the crucial factor behind the swing in numbers.

Queensland is now technically open to those from NSW, though Sydney residents are mostly excluded.

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