Weekly Wrap – 24th September 2022

Mainstream media this week has been understandably dominated by the death of the late Queen Elizabeth, followed by Australia’s own commemoration on Thursday with an official day of mourning. Whatever anyone’s feelings are about the monarchy, the incredible pomp and circumstance of her funeral evoked everything that is iconic about Great Britain, and with billions of people around the globe watching it was truly a tourism marketer’s dream. I won’t be at all surprised if there’s a boom in UK visitation as a result.

And while the UK may suddenly be top of mind, there are also plenty of other destinations suddenly vying for travellers’ attention – not least Japan which looks set to suddenly roar back into popularity after announcing that restrictions will ease in just over two weeks’ time. After months of agonising uncertainty and inching progress towards normality, officials have seemingly thrown caution to the wind and will remove all caps on visitation and special visa requirements. As with other destinations reopening the initial rush is likely to be dominated by VFR travel, but the move at least provides certainty for the wider travel sector – not least cruising which has until now been forced to reroute itineraries away from the land of the rising sun.

There was also a faint glimmer of a thaw in China’s approach, with the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism hinting at a potential softening – initially allowing visitation from certain sanctioned source countries. Very little detail has been provided at this stage, with the situation complicated by the fraught diplomatic landscape, and most analysts not predicting any significant reopening until after Chinese New Year in 2023 at the earliest.

Other big news in destination marketing this week was the pending departure of Astrid Gruchmann-Licht, who has led the Austrian National Tourist Office in Australia for more than three decades. Leaving for personal reasons as she relocates to Austria, Gruchmann-Licht has left an indelible impression on the industry, and truly led the way in getting her native country a significantly bigger share of the tourism voice than it would warrant in the normal course of events.

As always cruise has also been in the news, with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Oceania Cruises holding a Presidential Summit for key travel agents in Sydney amid plenty of other action for CEO Howard Sherman who was the line’s third ever employee – and despite a lifelong career in cruising had never visited Sydney before. NCLH’s Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand also launched a major new retail partnership with upmarket department store David Jones, and there’s set to be further Regent action over the next week, with another senior executive gracing our shores. Cruising is also paving the way for the return of passengers to Vanuatu, with P&O Cruises partnering with the destination for two trial shore visits on an upcoming Pacific Explorer voyage.

Finally there was a particularly interesting update for the corporate travel sector from the Northern Territory Government, which this week flagged an upcoming tender for Travel Management Services covering all of the Territory’s various agencies. While this is nothing new, it was intriguing to note that rather than a single TMC being sought, it’s likely that a panel arrangement will apply – a stark contrast to the current Federal Whole of Australian Government arrangements which are under review by the Department of Finance. I’m sure this is prompting some nervous moments within incumbent WoAG TMC QBT and its new owners Corporate Travel Management, which earlier this year paid $175 million for the business, part of which is underpinned by this major contract.

Anyway I’m off to resume my on-again, off-again long weekend and will be certain to raise a glass to our late monarch. RIP Elizabeth R, your faith and dedication was an inspiration to us all.

Have a great weekend

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