TOURISM Aust goes big on borders

LAST month Australia’s international borders reopened to inbound tourists, and while largely symbolic in terms of stimulating than immediate leisure response, Tourism Australia took the opportunity afforded by the 21 February return of normality by launching a major new international marketing campaign.

Themed “Don’t go small. Go Australia” the $40 million campaign targets traditional markets such as the UK, USA, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, aiming to remind travellers of the incredible experiences that await them here. Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said “After COVID-19, the world is looking forward to taking a holiday, and we want that holiday to be in Australia”.

The Minister said the promotion was the first step in a long-term strategy to restart tourism to Australia, flagging further investment in international tourism marketing campaigns later in 2022. Currently Australia remains on the “do not travel” list of a number of countries due to Omicron case numbers, but with the promotions targeting long-haul markets it’s likely all restrictions will be lifted by the time leisure travellers actually depart.

FCTG commits to RAP

FLIGHT Centre Travel Group has released details of its first ever Reconciliation Action Plan, committing the business to specific targets over the next two years including business-wide Cultural Intelligence Training.

The plan has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia, emphasising the importance of fostering consultation and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well as empowering and enabling staff to contribute to the process.

MD James Kavanagh said “we also hope that we’ll be able to continue to expand the education and employment opportunities available to First Nations communities and young people through expanding our partnership and supplier relationships with those organisations that may be on a simliar path”.

Bonza unveils bases

STARTUP regional carrier Bonza has made what it described as “the largest launch announcement in Australian aviation history,” unveiling plans to base aircraft at Melbourne Airport and Sunshine Coast Airport servicing 25 new routes across 16 destinations in NSW, Qld and Vic. Initial ports served will include Albury, Avalon, Bundaberg, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Gladstone, Mackay, Mildura, Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Townsville and the Whitsunday coast, operated by an initial five-strong fleet which is forecast to grow to eight in Bonza’s first year of operation.

“Since announcing Bonza to the world late last year we’ve always said we wouldn’t just fly between Australia’s three largest cities and instead give people in the regions more choice,” said CEO Tim Jordan. The Bonza business plan aims to give Australians more options – at ultra-low fares – to eplore their own backyard.

The carrier is backed by investment company 777 Partners, which has a wide range of businesses in its portfolio including Canadian carrier Flair as well as a host of sporting teams in Europe and South America.

Bonza is targeting a mid-2022 debut, with flights expected to go on sale within the next two months.

QF pushes points

QANTAS is making a concerted push for leisure travel market share, revamping its loyalty program to significantly lower the number of QF Frequent Flyer points required for all Qantas Hotels and Qantas Holidays bookings.

Redemptions have been rejigged to require 30% to 45% fewer points, with Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth saying “we’re increasing the power of a point when booking hotels and holidays because we want to reinvest in a program that has performed extremely well during COVID. Members have remained highly engaged despite the low levels of flying over the past two years, shown by the fact they’ve kept earning points on the ground and then redeemed them in record numbers,” she said.

A number of travel agents have reacted to the promotion by highlighting that the notional value of points redemptions is still significantly higher than the cost of simply booking the hotels directly, but Wirth noted a massive demand to unlock the scheme’s value, with more than seven billion points used to redeem flights in just four weeks after borders reopened.

Qantas is also targeting SME loyalty by announcing the launch of Qantas Business Money, a foreign exchange offering in partnership with Airwallex offering highly competitive rates and points earning by corporate members of the Qantas Business Rewards program.

Another Webjet deal

WEBJET Limited continued its acquisition spree last month with a US$10 million strategic investment in US-based automated hotel upselling solution business Roomdex. Webjet now holds 49% of the business, along with an option take full ownership in the future.

The flagship Roomdex product is called Upgrade Optimizer, a “fully automated hotel upsell tool” which intelligently calculates the optimal price for hotels to provide upsell offers on room upgrades, stay extensions and guest services.

Webjet MD John Guscic said while the pandemic had been challenging for travel businesses “it has also created market conditions ripe for technology innovation,” with other recent investments by the company including Locktrip and Trip Ninja.