Cairns tourism is bouncing back, industry experts say, with the Far North Queensland city now the number one region in Australia for Google travel searches.

The Cairns to Brisbane return route is also Australia’s busiest air link at present, a far cry from several months ago, when flights to the heavily tourism-dependent region all but stopped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cairns Airport’s head of aviation Garry Porter said the airport was seeing up to 90 flights per week, mainly from Brisbane, through low-cost carriers such as Jetstar.

“It’s exciting that we’re making the most of a terrible situation, in that Cairns has now become [one of] the busiest airports in Australia,” Mr Porter said.

“We normally sit in the top 10 to 15, so this is great, especially for the economy.”

He said the Brisbane-to-Townsville and Brisbane-to-Mackay routes were now the second and third busiest routes nationally.

Traditionally, Sydney Airport is the country’s busiest airport, followed by Melbourne.

Mark Olsen smiles in front of the Cairns Lagoon with apartments behind.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s Mark Olsen says a ‘younger demographic’ are enjoying mini-breaks in Cairns.(ABC News: Brendan Mounter)

Mr Porter said Cairns was seeing about 100,000 people arrive at the airport each month.

However, normally the figure is closer to 450,000.

AFL games ‘likely to drive demand’

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said Cairns had become the number one region in Australia for Google travel searches.

“Bookings have picked up for some properties, with Fitzroy Island Resort reporting strong forward bookings after losing a lot of business when the New South Wales border closed,” Mr Olsen said.

“Hotels are experiencing better midweek vacancies.

football match being played at dusk
Tourism authorities say the Sydney Swans and Fremantle Dockers games in Cairns will attract more visitors to the area.(Supplied: AFL Cairns)

Mr Porter said more flights from interstate would soon be returning, including the Cairns to Darwin route and Cairns to Adelaide.

“We’re about to come back into school holidays, so we’ll naturally see an influx there,” Mr Porter said.

“The AFL games are also likely to drive demand, too.”

The Fremantle Dockers and the Sydney Swans will be based in Cairns from next month with several matches to be played at Cazaly’s Stadium.