Promising Outlook for North Queensland Tourism Amidst Challenges

The recent cold snap in southern Australia has triggered a surge in online searches for tropical holidays. However, international tourists face stiff competition for the limited number of flights into North Queensland. While domestic visitation to the region slowed down in the first half of the year after a record-breaking 2022, there is optimism as forward bookings for the coming months and into 2024 remain high. Let’s explore the current state of tourism in North Queensland and the obstacles it faces.

North Queensland Tourism

Positive Signs for North Queensland Tourism :

Mark Olsen, CEO of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, has expressed confidence in the region’s recovery, largely due to the return of overseas visitors. According to him, the international recovery is halfway complete, and efforts are underway to attract airlines such as Cathay Pacific and China Southern back to the state. Reviving international air connections will play a crucial role in driving international visitation and revitalizing the local economy.

Flight Capacity and Affordability: North Queensland Tourism

Tara Bennett, CEO of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree, has highlighted the need for more direct flights from Singapore to reduce airfare costs for international travelers. The current limited flight capacity poses challenges, but increasing airline options could alleviate the situation. Lower airfares would make North Queensland more accessible to international visitors, ultimately supporting the region’s tourism recovery.

Labor Challenges and Work Visas:

While central Queensland experiences a busy winter season, labor shortages remain a challenge for certain operators. Mary Carroll from Capricornia’s Enterprise, responsible for marketing the region as a tourism destination, emphasizes the importance of work visas and holiday worker visas in addressing this issue. Local hospitality and tourism businesses are sponsoring overseas visitors to fill the labor gap. Ensuring a sufficient workforce is crucial for sustaining the region’s tourism industry.

Karumba’s Quiet Season:

In contrast to the positive outlook in North Queensland, the Gulf of Carpentaria’s Karumba is currently experiencing one of its quietest dry seasons in decades. Yvonne Tunney, a café and accommodation operator, attributes the decline in visitors to lingering misconceptions and misinformation following severe flooding earlier this year. Additionally, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has enticed more people to opt for overseas travel, impacting domestic tourism in certain regions.

Moving Forward:

Despite the challenges faced by North Queensland‘s tourism industry, there are reasons for optimism. The high number of forward bookings indicates a strong recovery trajectory, and efforts are underway to attract international airlines and increase flight capacity. Lower airfares, coupled with direct flight options, will be instrumental in encouraging international visitation. Addressing labor challenges through work visas remains a priority. Moreover, dispelling misconceptions and providing accurate information in destinations like Karumba will be crucial to rebuilding visitor confidence.


North Queensland’s tourism industry showcases a mix of positive trends and hurdles. While forward bookings inspire confidence in the region’s recovery, limited flight options for international tourists present a challenge. Engaging airlines, expanding flight capacity, and reducing airfares are critical to reinvigorating international visitation. Overcoming labor shortages and dispelling misconceptions in specific regions are equally important for a robust recovery. With collective efforts and a focus on enhancing visitor experiences, North Queensland has the potential to regain its status as a highly sought-after tropical destination.

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