Key Industries


Agribusiness contributes $1 billion to the Cairns regional economy each year. The sector’s competitive advantage is built on the region’s tropical climate and fertile soil and supported by specialised primary production and established supply chains. Leading exports include raw sugar, live cattle, horticultural products – particularly tropical fruits, fish and shellfish. Recently, Tropical North Queensland’s agribusiness supply chain has expanded to include coffee, chocolate, wine, nuts and dried fruits. 


Aviation is an emerging sector for the region due to its strategic location in Asia Pacific and excellent infrastructure. Several international and national companies have major service centres in Cairns including Hawker Pacific, who are an official Bombardier service centre and have the larges avionics workshop in the southern hemisphere, and UK owned Cobham Aviation Services.  Cairns Aviation Skills Centre and CQUniversity Aviation Campus are both located at Cairns Airport, delivering vocational and Bachelor Qualifications.

Health & Life Sciences

The Tropical North Queensland region is the ideal location for tropical forest science, biopharmaceuticals, tropical health, tropical foods and natural resource management. The region boasts James Cook University, home of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine; the Australian Tropical Forest Institute and the Australian Tropical Herbarium, who conduct internationally acclaimed research within these fields. 

Education & Training

From primary to tertiary, Tropical North Queensland is perfectly positioned for education. The region boasts world-class facilities including James Cook University, ranked in the world’s top 2% tertiary institutions, Central Queensland University, Great Barrier Reef International Marine College and TAFE North. Apprenticeships, traineeships, industry-based training and courses for domestic and international students cover a wide range of topics and areas of expertise.

Marine Services

Cairns has a thriving marine precinct, including 3 shipyards as well as HMAS Cairns naval base and Defence contractors. In addition to servicing the needs of defence, Cairns is home to a large and diverse marine sector that includes a world-renowned tourism reef fleet, commercial fishing and shipping and plays host to superyachts and cruise ships.

Renewable Energy

Cairns and the surrounding region have abundant renewable energy resources such as solar, wind and biomass. As a result of this resource the region has over 100 businesses operating in the renewable energy sector. The renewable energy industry includes household, commercial and industrial and utility scale project expertise. 


With dual World Heritage areas of the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, tourism management and training are naturally one of the region’s areas of expertise. The region’s well- trained professionals provide accommodation, entertainment, activities and experiences to the 2.4 million visitors per year, generating 24,000 jobs and contributing $3.1 billion to the economy.  

Tropical Health

Tropical North Queensland is home to the Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, offering programs encompassing public health, bi-molecular, clinical, and translational health systems research. Research is conducted across several James Cook University centres exploring key areas including tropical infectious diseases, health security and biosecurity, chronic disorders with high prevalence in the tropics; genetic diseases and health services in regional and remote communities.


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