The Cairns region is famous worldwide as a tourist destination. Every year, millions of visitors flock here to visit the magnificent World Heritage listed attractions of the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforests.
Tourism underpins the region’s economy. Over the last 10 years tourism income has grown from $400 million per year in the 1980s, to its current value of approximately $2.2 billion. In the last five years tourism is estimated to have contributed $12.4 billion to the Cairns economy.
For the year ended June 2011, there were 1,269,000 domestic visitors and 650,000 international visitors to the tropical nNorth Queensland region. The region’s largest source of visitors originated from Japan, North America, Europe and the United Kingdom while the number of Chinese visitors increased significantly from the previous year.
Tourism has been the region's fastest growing industry over the past three decades, and provides significant employment both directly and in a wide range of support industries. The Cairns region is Australia’s third most popular destination for international holiday visitors and the number one destination for Japanese holiday visitors.
The tourism industry is primarily based on natural and cultural features, which will continue to require attention by government, research, tourism and infrastructure industries to ensure protection of the attractions and character which are so important to sustaining future tourism.
Future opportunities for growth in this sector include growing the business tourism market, sports tourism, ecotourism and cultural tourism.