Cairns has been announced as the first regional destination to secure the next Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) for 2014 and will see the positive impacts of Tourism Australia’s biggest ever marketing investment of $150 million.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland’s CEO, Rob Giason, said the region’s popularity as a leisure destination and strong track record in the international events market helped Cairns win the bid to host the Southern Hemisphere’s largest international trade show.

“Bringing ATE to Cairns in 2014 is an extraordinary coup reflecting the quality of the destination and its tourism infrastructure as well as the strong participation at ATE by the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region over the past 13 years,” he said.

Addressing the ATE 2013 delegates in Sydney this week, Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy told delegates that the money would be used to ‘raise the bar’ in terms of quality, helping to counteract the high Australian dollar and increasing international competition.

“The high dollar is not new, and is something our industry has had to adapt to, rather than hide behind. The reality is that we’re coming off the back of three years of solid growth. Last year was a record for international visitors, up nearly five per cent to 6.1 million, with the country showing little sign of losing its global appeal,” Mr McEvoy said.

“The challenge is to make sure we deliver great value and accentuate those unique and distinctive experiences that help set Australia apart from our rivals,” he said, acknowledging that ATE provided the perfect platform to showcase the best of Australian tourism.

In response to Cairns being named the 2014 host region, Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Rob Giason said the announcement will jolt the industry back into recognising Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef as a globally competitive destination.

“Our region’s $7.1 million-a-day tourism industry is on track for our 2015 goal of increasing visitor expenditure to $3.2 billion and ATE will give us yet another boost in that direction.

“Winning ATE will put a spring in the step of our tourism operators who have been making an invaluable contribution to the region’s economy for many years.