IT’S the first of April, and I’m fortunate enough to be in Melbourne this weekend for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. Not that I was ever a huge motor racing fan, but Netflix’s Drive to Survive has definitely educated me on the sport and I can’t wait until the big race tomorrow.
News-wise it’s been a huge week for Singapore, with our issues on Monday dominated by all of the news from the Flight Centre Travel Group Independent conference in the Lion City over the weekend. During the event FCTG global leisure chief, James Kavanagh, and Danielle Galloway, who heads up the FCTG Luxury and Independent division, both gave some fascinating insights into the evolution of the company’s view of this previously underserved sector, which now combined comprises about 40% of leisure TTV.
Later in the week Singapore and Disney sealed a massive deal for a five year deployment of Disney Cruise Line’s seventh vessel, the as-yet-unfinished Global Dream which was under construction by the now defunct Genting Hong Kong when it collapsed about 12 months ago. As well as servicing the growing Southeast Asian cruise market, the momentous Disney initiative is predicted to bring literally hundreds of thousands of international fly-cruise visitors to Singapore, with the agreement seeing the 6,000-passenger ship operate year round from 2025.
And then yesterday Singapore Tourism Board chief Keith Tan confirmed a major destination marketing agreement with Flight Centre which will promote Singapore packages and “stayover” deals through a number of its global brands. Interestingly, the three year Memorandum of Understanding also includes an allocation for training and familiarisation of FCTG travel advisors, who it’s hoped will share their personal experiences and knowledge of the destination to drive visitation.
Other big news this week included a $2 million allocation by the Federal Government to fund research into the business events sector. Data is always key when driving funding decisions, and this major project demonstrates a commitment from Canberra to better understand the huge impact that meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions and events can have on the wider economy. The project will be overseen by the Business Events Council of Australa, which has clearly been able to make an impact on the Government by speaking as a single combined voice for the industry through its current process amalgmating the AACB, EEAA and ACCG into a united body.
As well as Disney in Singapore, other cruise news included a generous offer from A&K Travel Group, the new owners of Crystal Cruises, which sees the company honour deposits and travel agent commission outstanding from the collapse of Genting. We saw Virgin Voyages confirm a second season for Australia in 2024/25, and the retirement of New Zealand Cruise Association CEO Kevin O’Sullivan, to be replaced by Jacqui Lloyd from 01 June.
Discover Qatar’s Steve Reynolds revealed that Australia is now among the top markets for stopovers in Doha, with awareness of the destination surging due to the recent FIFA World Cup – and on that subject, Qatar’s sponsorship of the Formula 1 also sees it have a big presence in Melbourne this weekend. Today I’m heading off to the Albert Park “Paddock Club” thanks to Qatar Airways, Visit Qatar and Discover Qatar – so I’d better get going.
Have a great weekend everyone.