TEHAN takes Tourism portfolio
A MINISTERIAL reshuffle just before Christmas saw former Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham elevated to the Finance portfolio, replaced by Dan Tehan MP who has become Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
Tehan, who shifted across from his previous role as Education Minister, is a former diplomat with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, having joined DFAT in 1995 as a graduate.
AFTA welcomed the appointment in January, saying it had provided additional opportunity to press the industry’s case for ongoing support, as well as highlight the “grave flaws” in the $128 million COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support program.
An update late last month from Tehan confirmed $33 million had already been paid out under the grants scheme which had been “designed in consultation with the Australian Federation of Travel Agents”. Of that amount, more than half went to 168 agencies, each of which received the maximum $100,000 available per business under the scheme.
TTC Australia CEO steps down
FIONA Dalton, The Travel Corporation’s CEO for Australia and MD of Uniworld River Cruises, will depart the company on 2 March, just a few months after stepping into the role as the COVID-19 pandemic ground on.
Dalton said stepping down from the coveted role was “one of the most difficult career decisions I’ll ever make. However the impact of COVID-19 has irrevocably changed many of us, and for me it has ignited my desire to consider my next chapter”.
She thanked TTC Global CEO Brett Tollman for his understanding and leadership, with Tollman announcing that long-time TTC Executive Director David Hosking would take on the CEO office responsibilities.
Tollman also announced the appointment of Alice Ager as GM of Uniworld Australia.
Counsellors exits Oz
TRAVEL Counsellors franchisees in Australia have this month transitioned into a new arrangement as part of the Express Travel Group, with the organisation making the difficult decision to pull out of the local market after 13 years. Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne said the move was part of “a package of measures to support our long-term strategy and future growth”.
The transition agreement with Express Travel Group aims to ensure Australian Travel Counsellors will be fully supported to continue running their corporate and leisure travel businesses, with local MD Kaylene Shuttlewood and a number of the organisation’s Melbourne-based support team also moving across to Express, where CEO Tom Manwaring flagged they would become part of a new mobile division powered by the new Aeronology platform.
Qantas puts long-haul flights on sale
QANTAS has optimistically opened sales for flights to the USA and UK in July, saying the move is based on its best projections of a vaccine rollout. While some have seen the move as an opportunistic grab for cash, CEO Alan Joyce doubled down on the plan when speaking at an online conference last month.
Previously QF long-haul bookings had been suspended until October this year, with the accelerated timeline described as “aligning the selling of our international services to reflect our expectation that international travel will begin to restart from July 2021”.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack issued a quick smack-down to QF’s optimism, noting that the international border would only fully reopen once COVID-19 was no longer considered a public health risk. “Decisions about when international travel resumes will be made by the Australian Government,” he pontificated.
SureSave to become nib travel insurance
PUBLICLY listed nib Limited has confirmed the demise of the longstanding SureSave Travel Insurance brand, which was last month formally incorporated into the overall nib Travel umbrella.
nib Travel CEO Anna Gladman said existing SureSave reseller partners would transition to a unified nib Travel platform, but noted the same support team would be on hand.
The company has also launched new policies offering coverage for COVID-related events, such as overseas medical costs and some coronavirus-linked cancellation and quarantine expenses — along with a special provision for cancellation coverage for healthcare, aged care and law enforcement staff if they are required to return to work.
Gladman said the new policies aimed to help give people the confidence to book holidays and “get the global tourism industry back on its feet”.
Ban in place to March
AS widely expected, Health Minister Greg Hunt extended the existing Government Human Biosecurity Emergency Declaration in December, with the measure meaning the various provisions such as cruise ship bans and international border closures are now in place until 17 March.
That will mean the emergency period has been in place for a full 12 months, with Hunt saying the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee had advised that “the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk”.
It’s expected that the measure will be further extended again, although there are industry hopes that the earlier than expected rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia may accelerate a return to normality.
Hunt had forecast that COVID-19 inoculations could start late this month, with up to four million Australians vaccinated by late March.