New opportunities to take off with direct flights to Seoul
GOLD Coast links to Asia have just expanded with the commencement of direct flights between the South Korean capital Seoul and the Glitter Strip.
The flights by Jetstar started over the weekend with plenty of fanfare featuring K-pop dancers, Korean-themed food and a water cannon salute.
Operated by Jetstar Airways in a codeshare partnership with Korean airline Jeju Air, the new service will operate three times a week, and is the only direct connection to Seoul by a low-cost carrier in Australia.
The flights will operate on Jetstar's Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and represent an additional 52,260 seats into the city each year.
Queensland Airports Limited Chief Executive Officer Chris Mills said the new service created an important link between the Gold Coast and Korea, which would both deliver for the local visitor economy and increase the international connectivity of Gold Coast Airport for holiday-makers here.
"It means South Koreans will have a direct link to our stunning beaches and hinterland, delivering significant benefits to our economy," he said.
"It also opens up another new and exciting destination for local travellers."
Mr Mills said the new service came during a period of significant investment at Gold Coast Airport, with the southern terminal expansion and airport hotel developments well underway.
"With passenger numbers set to more than double by 2037, we are investing more than $500 million into the airport precinct to ensure we meet demand," he said.
"This investment includes construction of the southern terminal expansion which will double the floorspace of the existing terminal and includes four aerobridges. With the hotel opening in 2020 and the terminal expansion in 2021, future travellers will benefit from this investment."
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones welcomed commencement of the new service and said new flights would mean more tourism jobs on the Gold Coast.
"Over the next three years, this service will create nearly 2000 new tourism jobs, bring an extra 156,000 inbound airline seats to the Gold Coast and generate more than $176 million for the Queensland economy," she said.
Ms Jones said the Korean tourism market had grown steadily in recent years - from 63,000 visitors in the year to June 2016 to 76,000 visitors in the year to June 2019, contributing more than $226 million to Queensland's economy.
"Our research also shows that visitor nights from younger Korean tourists to Queensland have increased 12.5 per cent in the 12 months to June 2019," she said.
Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans said South Korean tourists wanted to travel to the Gold Coast.
"South Koreans travel more per capita than any other country in the Asia Pacific and rank Australia at the top country they want to visit," he said.
The new Seoul service adds to Gold Coast Airport's international links, which include Singapore, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and four ports in New Zealand, including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.