Touchdown … this is the start of the local tourism comeback.
Touchdown … this is the start of the local tourism comeback.

Comeback from coronavirus has landed

A tourism comeback for Noosa and the Sunshine Coast has landed with the Sunshine Coast Airport welcoming the arrival of the first passenger jet for leisure travel as the Queensland border reopens.

Jetstar flight JQ790 from Sydney touched down at SCA at 12.10pm Friday, opening the skies and answering the prayers and desperate wishes of all local hospitality and accommodation outlets.

Also read: New airport runway opens

Flight to Sydney and back to return

This was followed by Virgin Australia flight VA475 at 12.55pm, with the airport’s own Aviation Fire Fighting Service honouring the aircraft with a ceremonial water cannon salute upon landing.

Sunshine Coast Airport spokeswoman Ayllie White said the high passenger numbers were proof the industry was set to make a strong comeback, as anticipated.

“We know the return of our regular passenger flights will help resurrect the many businesses that rely on the airport – like car hire, private transfer companies, accommodation providers and tourism operators – who have been hit hard by COVID-19,” Ms White said.

“We’re confident this momentum will continue as pent up travel demand for our fabulous destination remains high and as travel restrictions are further eased.

“We look forward to expanding our offering of services and destinations in line with further border restrictions being lifted,” she said.

Visit Sunshine Coast interim CEO Craig Davidson said the influx of southern visitors confirmed the Sunshine Coast was a desired location for many travellers.

“In the past, New South Wales has been our strongest interstate market, attracting 526,000 visitors to the region in the year-ending March 2020,” she said.

“Prior to COVID, this represented an increase of 18.4 per cent from the previous year,” Mr Davidson said.

“Traditionally, the New South Wales market attracts high value travellers to the region, who stay longer and spend more.

“This is certainly a positive step towards our recovery, after what has been a challenging three months for the region’s tourism industry,” Mr Davidson said.