Gold Coast to Japan direct

JAPAN will be a step closer to the Tweed in October when Jetstar launches a daily direct service from the Gold Coast to Osaka, a move eagerly anticipated by local tourism bodies.

The present daily services from Osaka to Brisbane will be replaced with the new Osaka-to-Gold Coast service to cater for an expected rise in demand.

Tweed Tourism general manager Phil Villiers said the service would provide a great opportunity for the Tweed to capture the lucrative Japanese market.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for us, as we only get a sprinkling of the Japanese tourism market," Mr Villiers said.

"We will be working with Tourism NSW and Tourism Australia to further promote the Tweed."

Mr Villiers said it was the aim of his organisation to encourage visitors to go south once they arrived at the airport rather than heading further up the coast.

"That's really what we're all about, making people turn right instead of left," he said.

Gold Coast Airport's chief operating officer Paul Donovan said the new service, developed in response to market demand, would provide a 2100-seat capacity per week.

"This announcement is a logical step forward for the region in light of recent figures showing the vast majority of inbound passengers choose to end their journey on the Gold Coast (rather than Brisbane)," Mr Donovan said.

Mr Donovan labelled the Gold Coast as a leisure destination, naming the beaches, restaurants, theme parks and golf courses as big drawcards for international visitors.

Gold Coast Tourism spokesperson Ben Pole said access was vital in securing visitors to the local area.

"Access is a key for the tourism industry; we can create the desire for the destination but it is essential to have access such as this to convert interest into visitation. That has been achieved here," Mr Pole said.

He said the Gold Coast had seen a decline in Japanese tourism in recent years but was hoping to increase visitor numbers.

"This is sure to assist our visitation from Japan, which currently stands at 150,000 visitors and $122.6 million in visitor spending." Mr Donovan said the new service was not designed to take flights away from Brisbane, but was about increasing capacity into the Gold Coast.

"This is not about pinching flights, it's about providing a service," he said. "The Gold Coast is now being recognised as a destination; the Japanese want to come to the Gold Coast. "We are absolutely delighted Jetstar has taken the decision to come into the Gold Coast."

Ticket sales for the new flights will start tomorrow, pending regulatory approval.

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