From the publisher: Bruce Piper

This month’s National Travel Industry Awards will once again celebrate the best and brightest of the Australian travel sector, and also gives an opportunity to reflect on the nature of awards themselves.

It’s the 25th year of the NTIAs, and in this issue of travelBulletin we have been fortunate to be able to feature a first-hand account of the genesis of the awards from Geoff Brooks, who in 1992 came up with the concept that has stood the test of time.

Awards are definitely important — they are key marketing tools and a way for everyone in the industry to recognise and celebrate success. But there’s a danger when they are based on the opinions of unqualified “industry experts” or the result of an online poll where there is little assurance that those voting are even real people, let alone being part of the industry.

Let’s not make the mistake of devaluing the concept of awards to the industry equivalent of “everyone gets a trophy because that’s fair”.

By contrast, the long evolution of the NTIAs has seen the process repeatedly refined. There is no anonymous voting — nominees are truly being evaluated by their industry peers. A panel of esteemed and highly experienced judges is involved in a rigorous (and nerve-wracking) process which is conducted without fear or favour. And submissions to the judged categories are evaluated by academic experts.

AFTA is rightly protective of the long heritage of the NTIAs, and the finalists and winners this year and every year should be immensely proud of their achievements. I, along with the rest of the industry, look forward to celebrating excellence at the Sydney International Convention Centre later this month.

MEANWHILE the changing industry landscape was further highlighted as this issue of travelBulletin went to press with the revelation that Oman Tourism would close its Australian office after 16 years.

The news came just weeks after confirmation that Dubai Tourism was also closing down locally, while India Tourism is also set to cease Australian operations despite the countries having just completed a new bilateral aviation agreement.

Each tourism agency claims it will continue to service the local market from head office, and it will be fascinating to see how the lack of a physical presence here will impact travel patterns — particularly to a niche destination such as Oman without direct flight access.