Weekly Wrap – 1st October 2022

Good morning and welcome to this week’s wrap-up, and all I can say is it’s been a big few days!

The headlines this week have been dominated by industry personnel changes, with some pretty big moves including the announcement that former APT Travel Group chief Chris Hall has been named as the new Asia-Pacific CEO of Ponant Cruises. I’m sure he’s thrilled to be back in the saddle, since a restructure late last year saw him leave APT after overseeing more than two decades of astonishing growth. The week also started with the news that Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully was taking the Jetstar CEO role vacated by the soon-to-depart Gareth Evans. It’s possibly a welcome change for Tully, who has had to deal with much of the recent dissatisfaction from Qantas customers, and a new challenge which will round out her resume nicely.

Journey Beyond CEO Chris Tallent’s responsibilities were significantly enlarged when the company’s new owners, Hornblower Group, confirmed he would head up a new “overnight division” which also includes US-based river, small-ship ocean and expedition cruise operator American Cruise Lines – itself to be newly headed up by former CLIA Global CEO Cindy D’Aoust. And in other industry moves we saw the departure of David Padman from Helloworld after 15 years. Curiously, Helloworld didn’t comment on the move, despite him having led one of the organisation’s key divisions for many years. A change is as good as a holiday, they say, and I’m sure it won’t be long before someone takes advantage of his considerable talents and deep relationships with HLO’s members and franchisees.

There was also lots of cruise news, including the hotly anticipated launch of Disney Cruise Line’s Australian and New Zealand season, which predictably caused a website meltdown, compounded by the abrupt closure of its Florida-based call centre due to Hurricane Ian, right at the moment that local sales opened. It appears Disney was aware of the pending issues and gave a heads-up to its travel partners, meaning many travel agency clients are likely to have secured bookings, in contrast to consumers trying to book directly who were faced with that dreaded spinning wheel.

Also in cruise we saw confirmation that Four Seasons is the latest hospitality brand to move into cruising, with respected industry veteran Larry Pimentel to head up a new yacht division which already has up to three 190-passenger ultra-luxury vessels in the pipeline. There was also yet more evidence of the unprecedented attention being paid to the Australian cruise sector, with no less than four very senior global cruise line executives in Sydney over the last couple of weeks. Oceania Cruises President Howard Sherman was followed in quick succession by his Regent Seven Seas colleague Andrea DeMarco, the line’s Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. And then Disney President of Signature Experiences Thomas Mazloum hosted a launch event at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday night – followed yesterday by the arrival of Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy who will today kick off the return of Carnival Splendor with her first post-pandemic Sydney departure – preceded by a triumphant arrival yesterday which notably brought in Australia’s first international cruise visitors since the pandemic’s onset.

Closer to home we also saw the announcement of the new PS Australian Star, a newbuild vessel constructed locally with the support of the Victorian Government, which will significantly elevate the Murray River Paddlesteamers offering, described to travelBulletin as a “game-changing hero drawcard” for the region by Director, Craig Burgess.

The week ended with AFTA announcing the finalists in two of the voted categories at the upcoming National Travel Industry Awards – one of which, the Most Popular Industry Support Service award, generated so much feedback that it was split into two with the introduction of a new category aiming to highlight the contribution of individuals. The four finalists – Anna Shannon, Charlie Trevena, Richard Taylor and Roslyn Ranse – should all be rightly thrilled at being honoured in this way, regardless of who takes out the award on the industry night of nights.

Lots more happened, including the approval of the long-mooted takeover by motorhome specialist Apollo Tourism & Leisure by its NZ-based rival THL, as well as the ongoing relaxation of travel restrictions and testing requirements across several key Asian destinations.

Anyway I’m on the beautiful NSW Central Coast this weekend, enjoying a few days away. In a longstanding tradition our family gets together each October for a special dinner – which this year is tonight – where each of our three wonderful children prepares one of the courses. My only responsibility is to supply the wine – so I’d better get busy because expectations are high!

Have a great weekend and we’ll be back publishing on Tuesday.


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