Weekly wrap – 15th July 2023

Associate Editor MYLES STEDMAN wraps the week in travel and cruise.

THE industry has just been through a week of refreshing, restructuring, and expanding, as the post-pandemic travel landscape continues to crystallise.

Bonza penned an open letter to customers announcing its refreshed route map, sharing that five services – Maroochydore to Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, & Tamworth, Cairns to Mackay, and Toowoomba to Proserpine – will be removed. Chief Commercial Officer Carly Povey also wrote that other unspecified routes will have their frequencies reduced. In better news, three of Bonza’s more strongly performing routes (Maroochydore to Avalon & Albury, and Melbourne to Port Macquarie) will welcome an additional flight per week.

Bonza said it will be making the changes to “earn the respect of Aussie travellers”, as the airline aims to reduce the likelihood of cancellations and set itself up for long-term success. “We’ve been compelled to take out five routes where there isn’t sustainable demand at present,” Povey said. “Twenty-two routes remain and where there is very strong demand, we’re also starting to add in additional flights which is very positive this early on in Bonza’s journey,” she added. (Of course the travelBulletin team will be the first to blame Bonza’s woes on an ill-fated decision not to name one of their aircraft Bruce).

Doing a different kind of restructuring was Abecrombie & Kent (A&K), which reconfirmed Deb Fox as Managing Director Australasia, while adding the responsibilities of Executive Vice President of Trade Sales Asia Pacific, now for both A&K and Crystal Cruises. Fox will continue to be based in A&K’s Melbourne office, and will be supported by Tony Archbold, who will remain in his current role as Crystal Vice President Sales APAC, and Susan Haberle, who has been named as A&K Vice President Sales & Partnerships APAC.

The realignment under a new centralised leadership team aims to build on the ‘One A&K’ strategy, which will connect and synergise the company’s markets and brands by establishing new global roles connecting both A&K and Crystal across the world. “It is truly an exciting time at the A&K Travel Group as we continue to deliver on the One A&K vision,” Fox said. “My last 12 months at A&K have been exceptional, and my team and I look forward to continuing to work closely with our trade partners in delivering unparalleled travel experiences for their clients.”

Expansion was on the travel menu in Australia this week too, with Entire Travel Group growing its portfolio to include a new Entire Group Journeys range. The company is promising to “disrupt the escorted touring sector” with guaranteed departures, English-only guides, a maximum 24-passenger group sizes, four- and five-star hotels, extended stays, and prices leading in at $276 per person per day. Sales & Marketing Director Greg McCallum said trips have “all of the inclusions” as part of a strategic alliance with one of Europe’s largest and most respected tour operators. Journeys are initially on offer in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Morocco, and the Greek islands, with expansion planned into Egypt, Croatia, Turkey, and Jordan.

Also growing is the team at the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), appointing Ingrid Fraser as its new Director of Public Policy & Advocacy to drive political strategies at state and territory level. Fraser brings extensive expertise in policy development, advocacy, and stakeholder & relations and engagement at all levels of government. Her appointment aligns with AFTA’s key focus on supporting travel businesses and the wider sector in rebuilding their workforce post-pandemic.

AFTA was also in the news after receiving a record number of nominations for this year’s National Travel Industry Awards. Submissions closed at 5pm Sydney time yesterday, with the NTIA process now turning to the next stages including acceptance of nominations, shortlisting, judging and voting in the lead-up to the industry night of nights in Melbourne in November.

Turning to cruise, and an uncertified fire panel issue may be impacting up to 45 cruise ships sailing the world’s oceans, after it was first found aboard Explora Cruises’ inaugural flagship Explora I. A popular product from a key supplier failed a recent safety test, and while it is unclear which vessels are affected yet, the company Paroc is said to be a key dealer to two of the world’s largest shipbuilders, Fincantieri and Meyer Werft.

Meanwhile, the Cruise Lines International Association Awards (CLIAs) are shifting next year, for none other than culturally quintessential trailblazer Taylor Swift. CLIA has recognised the American singer-songwriter must come first, with Swift having recently booked a number of concerts in Sydney which clash with Association’s awards night. To avoid forcing the ‘Swifties’ among us to choose between our two loves (or forcing CLIA attendees to pay what are likely to be elevated prices for flights and accommodation), the awards are now shifting to 09 March 2024; they will still be hosted at the Star Event Centre in Sydney.

Although Swift has stolen the show on the occasion, let’s hope it’s certainly not a ‘Cruel Summer’ for Australia’s cruise industry.

And with that, I’m out. Have a great weekend everyone.


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