Jetstar has opened up Australia’s first direct low-cost airline connection with Korea amid a flurry of K-Pop dancers and a hope that the Korean penchant to travel will lead them to Queensland’s Gold Coast.
The timing of the December 8 launch of the Gold Coast-Seoul flights is not entirely auspicious; it comes as Jetstar grapples with industrial action on two fronts from pilots and ground staff demanding better pay and conditions.
The Australian carrier is operating the three-times-weekly Boeing 787 service in a codeshare partnership with Korean budget counterpart Jeju Air.
Supported by the Queensland Government in partnership with Queensland Airports and destination Gold Coast, the flights represent an additional 52,625 seats into the holiday destination annually.
Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the Korean tourism market had grown steadily from 63,000 visitors in the year to June 2016 to 76,000 in the year to June 2019.
She said research also showed visitor nights from younger Korean tourists to Queensland had grown by 12.5 percent in the 12 months to June 2019.
“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,” she said.
Jetstar chief executive Gareth Evans said South Koreans traveled more per capita than any other country in the Asia Pacific and ranked Australia at the top country they want to visit.
“The Gold Coast is the perfect gateway to explore Queensland and the rest of the country and we look forward to working with our partners to continue to promote the city and the region to make this service a success,” he said.
Queensland Airports chief executive Chris Mills said the new flights created an important link between the Gold Coast and Korea and opened up another international destination for local travelers.
“It means South Koreans will have a direct link to our stunning beaches and hinterland, delivering significant benefits to our economy,” he said.
Later welcoming the first passengers from Korea after the return flight landed December 9, Mills said cultural awareness training had been delivered for employees and terminal stakeholders and a Korean liaison officer had been employed as part of customer service preparations for the new Seoul service.
“We are really focused on ensuring South Korean visitors receive a warm welcome and fond farewell when they travel through Gold Coast Airport,” he said.
“Our Korean liaison officer is on hand to provide any assistance required, while many of our employees and key stakeholders in the terminal have undergone cultural awareness training to ensure we are doing our best to assist our customers.”