SYDNEY, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in the Australian state of Queensland are aiming to boost tourism and trade by creating a direct link between Asia and the city of Cairns through a long term airline partnership.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones announced on Tuesday that an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process had begun for a new airline to partner with the state government, Cairns Airport and Cairns Regional Council.
"Improving our tourism and trade links with Asia is crucial when it comes to growing the Cairns economy," she said.
"This process will see us actively engage with airlines keen to fly between Tropical North Queensland and key trade and tourism hubs in Asia."
Jones said that aside from the immense benefits of giving visitors direct passage to the Great Barrier Reef and Gold Coast, it is important for the region's industry to improve trade links with Asia.
"We know this region boasts some of the most iconic tourism experiences on the planet," she said. "But we also recognize the importance of the Tropical North as a trade hub for Queensland -- particularly given our commitment to strengthen trade ties in southeast Asia."
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said that the EOI process is intended to test the market and will allow airlines to put forward proposals to the government.
"The EOI will be assessed based on the proposed frequency, route and duration of flights, ability to shift in the order of 60 tonnes of freight a week and a range of other factors important to both the tourism, aquaculture and agriculture industries," Healy said.
"To be successful these services will need to be self-sustaining in the medium and long term."