THE first international flight in ten years landed in Canberra last Wednesday, marking the start of a new phase in the region’s connectivity to the wider world.
Carriers from Singapore Airlines will be rotating between Changi Airport in Singapore, Canberra, and Wellington Airport in New Zealand four times a week.
Former Tumut Shire Councillor Geoff Pritchard said this opens up enormous local tourism potential from the Asian markets.
“Singapore is the hub of Asia, and from Canberra tourists can see a snapshot of Australia,” he said.
“The Chinese – all the Asian countries really – are becoming more urbanised and they’re concerned about their younger people not getting an outdoor experience. Well we’ve got all that. The potential is absolutely extraordinary.”
“The challenge is for our community to capitalise on that. If we don’t do it ourselves than other overseas [tourism] companies will do it. It’s going to happen, and whether we do it ourselves and provide jobs for our young people or if we leave it overseas companies is the challenge.”
“The air service will increase the interest in Canberra for overseas visitors. The developments in Canberra are going to flow onto us, so it’s up to us to get ourselves in order and get our attractions in order.”
The new flights also enable local explorers to access New Zealand and Asia without having to through Sydney.
The tickets won’t break the bank either – economy class fares start from $650 return to Singapore and $469 return to Wellington.
Canberra Airport Managing Director Stephen Byron said the international flights are a “game changer” for the region.
“The Canberra Region truly becomes globally connected with direct international flight connections – from the Snowy Mountains to the South Coast and from the Riverina to the Southern Highlands,” he said.
“Not only will it truly put us on the tourism map – and with the wonderful product development by the industry over the last 5-10 years, Singaporean and Chinese tourist will love what we have to offer – but it will provide the platform for so many of our professional firms and innovative businesses to expand, to export, and to grow.”
Passengers on the first flight to land on Wednesday were greeted with flowers, water cannons, and violinists in honour of being the first international visitors to fly into the national capital in ten years.