There were huge celebrations at Gold Coast Airport over the weekend, with the first ever direct flight between the Gold Coast and Seoul taking off.
K-pop dancers, Korean-themed food and a water cannon salute were all part of the festivities on Sunday, marking the special occasion.
Operated by Jetstar Airways, in partnership with Korean airline Jeju Air, the much-anticipated new service is the only direct connection to South Korea by a low-cost carrier in Australia.
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It will fly three times a week and operate on Jetstar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
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 forecast to contribute up to $176.5 million to the state economy in the next three years.
“New flights mean more tourism jobs on the Gold Coast and that’s what it’s all about,” Tourism Minister Kate Jones, who was on scene at Gold Coast Airport for take-off yesterday, said.
“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.
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.
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.
The first load of passengers to arrive on the Gold Coast from Seoul will touch down this morning.