K-pop dancers, Korean-themed food and a water cannon salute were part of the celebrations at Gold Coast Airport marking the first direct flight between the Gold Coast and Seoul today.
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 holidaymakers 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.”
The new route is supported through the Queensland Government’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, in partnership with airport owner Queensland Airports Limited and Destination Gold Coast and is forecast to contribute up to $176.5 million to the state economy in the next three years.
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.
“New flights mean more tourism jobs on the Gold Coast – that’s what today is all about,” she said.
“We boosted funding for direct flights to partner with airlines to grow the tourism industry on the Gold Coast. This new route is a proof that strategy is working.
“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.”
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.
“This new service, in partnership with Korean carrier Jeju Air, presents a great opportunity to build on this growing market.
Jetstar Group CEO Gareth Evans said South Korean tourists wanted to travel to the Gold Coast.
“We are excited to partner with the Queensland Government, Queensland Airports and Jeju Air to launch Australia’s first direct low-fares air service to Seoul,” he said.
“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. The Gold Coast is the perfect gateway to explore Queensland and the rest of the country and we look forward to working with our partners to continue to promote the city and the region to make this service a success.”
Destination Gold Coast CEO Annaliese Battista said the Gold Coast appealed to high-spending Korean travellers seeking authentic Australian travel experiences.
“Interest in the Gold Coast from Korea has been steadily growing in recent years,” Ms Battista said.
“This trend is likely to continue as connectivity direct to our doorstep is unlocked. Koreans love what the Gold Coast has to offer.
“Gold Coast is a safe destination where travellers can immerse themselves in our beaches, theme parks, lush hinterland and array of man-made attractions, while indulging in quality local produce at our cafes and restaurants. Destination Gold Coast’s investment includes increasing its marketing footprint in Korea to drive visitor demand and entice more holiday-makers to Australia’s favourite playground.”
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.