TOUCH­ING DOWN

Ex­cite­ment as first Mel­bourne flight lands in Proser­pine to­day.

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ABELL Point Ma­rina owner Paul Dar­rouzet is al­ready notic­ing an in­crease in for­ward book­ings from Mel­bourne cus­tomers.

Mr Dar­rouzet says this busi­ness boost is thanks to the launch of Jet­star’s di­rect Mel­bourne flights, the first of which ar­rives to­day.

“Al­ready we’re notic­ing more Mel­bourne visi­tors want­ing to come be­cause the flights are avail­able for them now,” he said, not­ing Hamil­ton Is­land was pre­vi­ously the only di­rect gate­way choice.

“(So) it’s al­low­ing these peo­ple to ac­cess a greater range of (Whit­sun­day) main­land ex­pe­ri­ences, op­por­tu­ni­ties and choices,” he said.

To­day’s inau­gu­ral flight, touch­ing down in Proser­pine at 10.30am, marks a mile­stone mo­ment for the many lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple, tourism op­er­a­tors and in­di­vid­u­als who have cam­paigned long and hard for in­creased air ac­cess from the south­ern states.

In 2012, lo­cal real es­tate agent Brad Sobott ran an “Air­port to Air­lie” marathon as a com­mu­nity fundraiser for the cause and to­day he says he couldn’t be more proud.

“I think the town is reap­ing the re­wards al­ready from the (Tiger) Syd­ney flight and there are a lot of Mel­bourne in­vestors see­ing the ben­e­fit of the new (Jet­star) flight and talk­ing about the lifestyle as­pects here – es­pe­cially in the win­ter months,” he said.

“Just in the tourism sense there are al­ready a lot more peo­ple in town than there were a year ago and you only need to be at the air­port in the morn­ings to see that.”

As well as bring­ing more than 100 new visi­tors to our shores, to­day’s plane is car­ry­ing about 30 Mel­bournebased leisure travel agents and busi­ness event or­gan­is­ers.

This group is set to en­joy a two-day visit, hosted by Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing & De­vel­op­ment (WMDL) and in­clud­ing a num­ber of site in­spec­tions and meet­ings with lo­cal sup­pli­ers.

Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney, who will be at the air­port to welcome the flight, said over the two days there would be a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on Air­lie Beach and Day­dream Is­land, with WMDL pro­mot­ing the re­gion’s key in­fra­struc­ture and prod­ucts.

“It is fan­tas­tic that we are able to more read­ily ex­pose our re­gion to (the) Mel­bourne mar­ket thanks to the new Jet­star di­rect flights,” she said.

Jet­star Aus­tralia and New Zealand CEO David Hall, who is also on to­day’s first flight, said the air­line had al­ready seen strong book­ings for the win­ter school hol­i­day pe­riod “and this de­mand con­tin­ues to­wards the end of the year”.

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