In brief: news from April 2021

NZ travel bubble opens

NZ travel bubble opens

THE highly anticipated opening of quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand on 19 April was described as “Monumental Monday” by Air New Zealand, which suggested the milestone marked the first day of the carrier’s revival. Qantas was similarly enthusiastic about the resumption of trans-Tasman services, which followed medical advice to NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that “trans-Tasman travel is now considered low risk”.

However she warned of “continue, pause or suspend” protocols which meant that those undertaking travel from either country will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’.

Hundreds of services have now operated safely, as Air NZ, Qantas and Jetstar poured new capacity onto the route — in contrast to Virgin Australia which at this stage has not resumed any international flying.

Tourism Australia responded by launching its first post-pandemic international campaign targeting Kiwis, and now New Zealand has also launched its second travel bubble, this time with the Cook Islands.

Tourism 2030 panel

TOURISM Minister Dan Tehan last month announced a new Reimagining the Visitor Economy panel, led by his long-time ALP predecessor Martin Ferguson. The group will “continue the work which commenced in 2018 on the development of the Tourism 2030 long term strategy,” Tehan said, after the project was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel’s wide-ranging remit will cover domestic and international tourism, business and major events, international students, short-term overseas workers, hospitality, aviation and the accommodation sector, with consultation to be invited from across the industry in the coming months.

Cameron leaves FCTG

Travel Partners General Manager Kate Cameron was a surprise victim of a restructure within Flight Centre’s newly formed Independent Brands division, which is now being overseen by Astrid Richardson.

Cameron had been with Helloworld Business Travel for about a decade prior to joining Travel Partners in 2018, with Flight Centre only confirming her departure after Travel Partners agents noticed automatic email responses indicating she was no longer with the company.

The Independent Brands division includes Travel Associates at Home, Travel Partners and Flight Centre Independent, which the company said was “now re-emerging with new technology, differentiated packaged products and a connected home for all travel entrepreneurs to rebuild their businesses”.

Rail Tickets is back

Technology innovator Aeronology has scooped up the defunct Rail Tickets brand which was formerly part of Helloworld’s wholesale division before its previous GSA deal with Rail Europe was terminated.

Aeronology MD Russell Carstensen, who has registered Rail Tickets as a trade mark, said his company’s platform was now being significantly enhanced to add rail functionality, noting that over the next few years train trips were expected to comprise as much as 25% of international transactions.

“The days of waiting on the phones to do a simple point-to-point rail booking and make absolutely no money are over…now rail becomes an additional and very important product for travel advisors,” he said. Rail Tickets will be embedded into every part of the Aeronology platform “so rail will be part of the travel advisor’s sales process, even with wholesale airfares,” he promised.

Nexus Hols closure

LONG-time international tour operator Nexus Holidays has been placed into administration, with the company saying it had been “significantly impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, where trading has been limited due to travel restrictions”.

Nexus, whose directors are Toronto, Canada-based Matthew Wang and Honglei Chu from NSW, was ATAS accredited until mid-2020, when its participation in the scheme was terminated. The liquidators, Jonathon Keenan and Peter Krejci from BRI Ferrier, said “the available financial information indicates that the company has insufficient assets available to meet its liabilities…as such, the company is unable to deliver on previously booked holiday packages and tours”.

Nexus Holidays was a significant supplier to several industry retailers including Luxury Escapes, Inspiring Vacations and Webjet Exclusives, with a global portfolio of group tours in China, Southeast Asia, the Subcontinent, North America and cruising.

Vale Isi Leibler

THE founder and long-time CEO of the Jetset Travel Group, Isi Leibler, died last month in Israel aged 87. Leibler was a pioneer of the Australian retail travel sector, with Jetset in its 1970s, 80s and 90s heyday described as “the colossus of the Australian travel agents, tour wholesalers and consolidators”.

Jetset was a long time local GSA for carriers including American Airlines, China Airlines, TWA and El Al Israel Airlines, and among many notable achievements had a key partnership with the Australian Council of Trade Unions when it was led by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

The group grew to become one of the largest travel agency networks in Australia, much of which still survives today as part of Helloworld Travel Limited. In addition to wholesaling and retailing, Jetset Fares & Ticketing conducted a longstanding rivalry with Concorde to be the country’s leading consolidator. Leibler sold the majority of the Jetset business to Air New Zealand in 1986.

As well as his business interests in travel, Leibler was a strong advocate for the Australian Jewish community, acting as a long-time leader of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. He retired to Israel in 1999.


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