Weekly wrap – 19th August 2023

ADAM BISHOP wraps up the week that was...

Good morning fellow travel gurus and welcome to the weekly wrap, a period which saw some massive news over at AFTA, with the industry body rebranding as the Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA) in a bid to lobby government more effectively through a single voice. The rebranded body’s Chair, Tom Manwaring, said ATIA will represent the combined interests of travel agents, tour operators, consolidators and wholesalers, and while the change may ruffle the feathers of other advocacy bodies, ATIA is adamant the change will benefit all stakeholders in travel. Part of the change has also seen the rollout of a new individual membership option, allowing anyone working in the travel sector to align themselves with the peak industry body.

In further developments, river cruise operator AmaWaterways will establish an Australian office from next month, a move which signals a departure from its long-time partner Australian Pacific Holdings (APH). APH subsidiary APT Travel Group had long represented the AmaWaterways cruise brand in Australia under an exclusive partnership initiated in 2005, however AmaWaterways Director Gary Murphy said APT had “chosen not to charter our ships past 2024”, precipitating a decision to tap the Aussie market directly.

In some big agency news, the invitation-only Link Travel Group has added former Magellan member Martini Travel and Express Travel Group agency Travel Associates Australia (not to be confused with the Flight Centre brand) to its member portfolio. Benefits of being asked to join the Spencer Travel/Goldman Group/Flight Centre joint-venture include access to a wider range of supply and technology, among many others. Commenting on the latest recruits, Link GM Scott Darlow said each were “excellent businesses run by highly motivated, ambitious and successful people”.

As we know, Qantas is no stranger to the headlines and this week was certainly no exception, namely because of the ACCC’s decision to give the final green light for an extension to coordinate with Emirates on flights. Despite objections from many in the travel sector about the perceived unfair power it gives the two behemoths of the air, the competition watchdog said it would only be monitoring the Sydney to Christchurch route for any consumer disadvantages, with Air New Zealand the only brand running competitor services to Qantas. Meanwhile, the Flying Kangaroo’s Senior Manager Distribution, Nathan Smuelders, also revealed the airline believes traditional EDIFACT fare distribution is approaching its “end of life”, with the carrier confirming it is now sinking all its investment into NDC instead.

Sticking with aviation for a moment and it was also a big week for Fiji Airways, which welcomed the third of its larger wide-body A350s to the fleet in Nadi, flagging a fourth to join in a matter of weeks. The longer-range aircraft will allow the Pacific carrier to expand to more international ports in Asia and North America, as well as add more seats on Australian routes. While the carrier is currently restricted by a seat cap to Australia, CEO Andre Viljoen said he hoped to expand to other Aussie ports like Cairns in time, as Aussies make up the bulk of its inbound tourism market and there is clearly an appetite for Fiji.

In some more good news for Queensland’s aviation sector, China’s largest airline announced it will return services to the Sunshine State for the first time since the pandemic forced the closure of borders in 2020. China Southern Airlines will restore flights between Guangzhou and Brisbane from 17 November, operating four times a week initially before moving to daily within two years. Brisbane Airport estimates over the next three years, the rebooted services will create an extra 278,000 inbound seats alone, generating nearly $441 million for the visitor economy.

Back on terra firma in the world of new ventures and popular travel industry recruiter Richard Kellaway has launched a new travel recruitment firm called Kellaway People. The gun recruiter was previously with CRC Traveljobs for almost 28 years as General Manager. His new business promises to “unlock doors to inspiring career paths” in the travel and tourism industry using a combination of networks, negotiation, and exclusive partnerships with high-profile employers.

Express Travel Group is continuing its first post-Helloworld acquisition ETGX conference in Singapore today, with CEO Tom Manwaring and HLO chief Andrew Burnes both assuring members it is absolutely business as usual. travelBulletin is at the event, and took a bunch of photos last night at the opening evening cocktails sponsored by The Travel Corporation – check all of the action out here.

Finishing with a few key numbers for the week, and it’s impressive to note that Indonesia continues to be at the top of the outbound Aussie resident returns list, with a crackdown by Balinese authorities on tourism clearly failing to dampen the appetites of Aussie travellers for some beautiful golden beaches and tasty Bintang Beer. Indonesia accounted for 15% of all short-term departures in June (112,370 trips), with new ABS figures showing the market tracked well ahead of second place New Zealand (67,340). With the tough talk bubbling away about how far the Federal Government should go to protect the interests of Qantas from overseas competition, it was also interesting to note the Aussie carrier carried close to 30% of all overseas passengers in February. Qantas managed to widen the gap on foreign carriers like Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways, whose slice of the market all shrank during the same period when compared to the same month last year.

A special mention as well to some big ship debuts in the world of cruise, with Seabourn Cruise Line’s new Seabourn Pursuit, the company’s second ultra-luxury, purpose-built expedition ship, embarking on her first voyage. The vessel welcomed initial guests for an eight-day voyage from Valletta to Rome. Meanwhile, Silversea Cruises’ Silver Nova also departed on her maiden trip, sailing out of Venice on Monday. Nova is cruising on a seven-day round trip voyage through the Adriatic, which will call in Piran, Zadar, Dubrovnik, Split, Rovinj and Kotor. The ship is Silversea’s 12th, and the first to launch this year for the cruise line’s parent company Royal Caribbean Group.

Speaking of sailing away, it’s time for my breakfast, have a great weekend everyone.


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