Weekly Wrap – 11th November

BRUCE PIPER wraps up the week that was.

Good morning everyone!

It’s been another big week in travel, and particularly for Australia’s business events sector. Last weekend the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) wrapped up its annual summit in Rwanda – with 1,200 attendees from across the globe – with the announcement that Perth will host the event in 2024. Described as the most influential forum in the travel and tourism sector, the WTTC comprises leaders of airlines, tour operators, hotel companies, cruise lines and more, with a mission ” to maximise the inclusive and sustainable growth potential of the travel and tourism sector”. Business Events Perth hailed the win, with Chair Bradley Wood saying “attracting this prestigious travel and tourism summit to Perth shines a spotlight on the sector  and serves as a catalyst in further establishing WA as Australia’s Western Gateway to the world”.

The WTTC bid was supported by Tourism Australia (TA), under its Business Events Bid Fund Program which was recently topped up to the tune of $4 million, according to TA MD Phillipa Harrison. She was centre stage later in the week during TA’s bi-annual Dreamtime incentive event in Adelaide, telling travelBulletin she wants to “supercharge this industry”. MICE buyers and media from across the globe attended Dreamtime, which from next year will be named Australia Next to align with Business Events Australia’s magazine of the same name. Making up for lost time, Australia Next will run once again in 2024 in Cairns, before resuming its customary two-year frequency from 2025.

Inbound tourism was also strongly in focus during PM Anthony Albanese’s visit to China this week, which saw a number of agreements highlighted including a new visa arrangement to smooth travel between the countries. Australian inbound and outbound markets will also benefit from increased capacity announced by a number of carriers this week, including Singapore Airlines which from Oct 2024 will add a fifth daily Sydney-Singapore frequency – making the NSW capital SIA’s largest international destination. SQ will also increase Adelaide-Singapore frequencies to ten per week over the 2024/25 peak season, while other carriers adding seats include Vietjet which from later this month will increase Australian flights to 48 per week.

Also in aviation we saw AirAsia X switch its Sydney-Auckland flights back to the Gold Coast – a move which is likely to see ticket prices surge on the key SYD-AKL trans-Tasman route. Batik Air announced new non-stop flights from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur over the summer period, in addition to its daily Melbourne-Bali-Kuala Lumpur operations, while in not so good news Air New Zealand announced network changes including the suspension of its Auckland-Hobart route as well as flights to South Korea due to supply chain and maintenance issues with its Pratt & Whitney engines.

The week wrapped up with a big announcement from Jetstar – albeit with a somewhat long term horizon – with the Qantas low-cost offshoot announcing plans to revamp its decade-old 787-8 fleet. The premium cabin will double in size, while new seats in economy will remove seat-back video in favour of wi-fi streaming to personal devices. In addition, new crew rest areas will be installed, potentially allowing the aircraft to operate with greater range. Jetstar hinted at possible new destinations as far afield as Sri Lanka and even Africa, but naturally wasn’t able to provide any further details since the refurbishment project isn’t even set to kick off until 2025.

Moving to cruise, and wave season rolls on with the ongoing arrival of ships from across the globe. It was a big week for Royal Caribbean, with Ovation of the Seas returning for a packed Sydney program which yesterday included a special event on board with the one and only Jamie Oliver, who showcased a decade-long partnership with the cruise line and his Jamie’s Italian eatery. We also saw a huge changing of the guard at Royal’s former sister brand Azamara, where CEO Carol Cabezas, who has led the line since its early-pandemic acquisition by private equity firm Sycamore Partners, was unceremoniously replaced by Dondra Ritzenthaler – who isn’t starting her new role for six months presumably due to a non-compete in her current contract with Celebrity Cruises.

Celebrity was also in the news with the delivery of its newest Edge-class ship, Celebrity Ascent, as well as the steel-cutting ceremony for the fifth vessel in the series which will be named Celebrity Xcel. And the week in cruise wrapped up with a well-deserved accolade for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Walk for Wellness, with the industry mental health and fitness initiative setting a Guinness World Record after smashing all participant and distance targets.

After all that, the week ahead is looking big too. We have the Luxperience trade show in Sydney, in its first post-pandemic rendition and also under the event’s new positioning as part of Flight Centre Travel Group’s luxury portfolio, and then on Friday a huge industry weekend kicks off in Melbourne, where ATIA will host the National Travel Industry Awards. We can’t wait!


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