THIS week has marked some exciting new announcements within the industry, including the unveiling of Air New Zealand’s new Skynest sleep pods, which promise to “revolutionise” the Economy experience. In another compelling development, Oceania Cruises welcomed its new ship, Vista, marking the cruise line’s first fleet addition in 10 years. We also got an exclusive first look at Murray River Paddlesteamers’ up-and-coming vessel, Australian Star, which will become the first five-star river ship Down Under when she sets sail in April 2025.
Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia kicked off Wintjiri Wiru, a spectacular new evening experience at Uluru Ayers Rock Resort, which allows visitors to experience ancient Anangu storytelling through state-of-the-art light and sound technology. Meanwhile, Club Med revealed that the ski resort market now represents 30% of its business in Australia, with GM Pacific Michelle Davies telling travelBulletin that demand is only continuing to grow.
It has been an especially important week for Fiji, with international buyers and media meeting with the country’s local suppliers for the Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE). During the three-day event, Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill shared that Fiji saw its highest-ever volume of Australian visitors in a month in December 2022, while overall visitation rates are already above and beyond the DMO’s goal of pre-pandemic recovery by 2024.
Speaking to travelBulletin at FTE, Fiji Airways confirmed its commitment to maintaining travel agency commission payments, and also noted the return of all the markets it serviced pre-pandemic. Closer to home, low-cost carrier Bonza got wheels up on its new direct Melbourne to Bundaberg service, as it works to put more rural destinations on the map for Aussie travellers.
Of course, with the good comes the bad, and the Government’s decision to increase the Passenger Movement Tax (PMC) by $10 has been a heavy blow for the industry. Despite pleas from key industry bodies for a five-year freeze of the PMC rate, the new Federal Budget will see the travel and tourism tax raised from $60 to $70 from 01 July 2024.
The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), along with the Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF), the Airlines Association of Australia (AAA), and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), has blasted the decision, arguing that it would impede the industry’s recovery from the pandemic and swipe an extra $520 million from the travel sector. Shadow Minister for Tourism Kevin Hogan also expressed his disappointment in the budget measure, labelling it as “a kick in the face for our tourism industry”.