Weekly wrap – 25 March 2023

MYLES STEDMAN reviews the biggest stories in the travel industry this week.

MUCH of the country will have their eyes trained to New South Wales this weekend, as the state heads to the polls to either re-elect Dominic Perrottet or vote in Chris Minns, but it was another personnel change which turned heads in the travel industry this week.

In a big week for Helloworld, the departure of Group General Manger Retail & Commercial Nic Cola was announced, as he returns to the education sector as RMIT Chief Executive Officer Online.

Cola will start with RMIT from 03 April, with Helloworld not yet confirming his replacement.

He initially joined Helloworld as Head of Cruise Wholesale when the company purchased Cruiseco from Australian Pacific Holdings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite his departure, he will not be a total stranger to the travel industry, through his role as co-Chair of consumer organisation CHOICE, which has frequently found sparring partners within the travel industry the past few years.

There was positive news for Helloworld this week too, with the company announcing its purchase of a 34% stake in Oslo-based business Australiareiser, a specialist in travel to Australia from Scandinavia.

Helloworld said the purchase would be used as a staging point for its ResWorld system in the region.

“We are delighted to announce that Australiareiser will become the launch customer for our mid-office system ResWorld in Europe,” Helloworld Chief Executive Officer Andrew Burnes enthused.

The ResWorld product is now deployed in more than 160 travel agencies, with more rollouts planned later this year.

This week also saw Wendy Wu Tours unveil its new 2023/2024 China itineraries, on the back of the country’s recent reopening.

The company’s founder and namesake Wendy Wu told travelBulletin travel advisors need to actively pursue the “major opportunities” China’s reopening is presenting.

Wu said there has been a huge amount of pent-up demand for China, which is now “at an all-time high”.

“Agents need to take full advantage of this opportunity now to ensure they are ahead of the competition by satisfying this demand,” she added.

Since the news of China’s reopening, Wendy Wu has experienced its biggest week for  bookings to the country since 2019, as demand returns to pre-COVID levels.

This week also saw Virtuoso’s Owner Managers Forum come to a close, with eight travel agencies added to the luxury network’s ranks in recent months.

Recent additions include Travel Inspirations, Benalla Travel, Lifestyle Travel, and Destination HQ from Victoria; Sydney agency Bay Travel; and a new upmarket operation led by itravel’s Steve Labroski, called ‘Luxe by itravel’.

The Forum also saw the announcement of a new “advisor recruitment program” for Virtuoso members, aiming to help solve the travel industry’s well-documented staffing shortages.

The initiative utilises a new proprietary tool which will provide members with a pool of advisors looking to sell travel, with agencies matched with agents based on a survey assessing their career preferences.

Interested candidates will be able to find out more via a link at the bottom of the home page on

Meanwhile, the cruise industry is set to lose yet another giant, with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio Sr set to retire at the end of June.

After an illustrious, 30-year career, Del Rio will be replaced by Norwegian Cruise Line Chief Executive Officer Harry Sommer.

Norwegian Chief Consumer Sales & Marketing Officer David Herrera will succeed Sommer as President of the cruise line from next month.

Princess Cruises also deployed big news this week locally, with Crown Princess to soon claim the title of largest cruise ship to ever be based year-round in Australia.

The 3,080-guest ship will make her debut in her new home port of Sydney in October 2024, offering itineraries which include a 113-night world cruise – the longest Princess voyage to sail round-trip from Australia.

Elsewhere in the travel industry, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents named seven ‘Custodians’ of the NTIAs, Lufthansa has slashed BSP commission from 5% to 3%, and Intrepid announced a $25.9 million loss – a significant improvement on its prior result of -$60.7 million.

As a New South Welshman who has (probably unwisely) left their voting to election day, it’s definitely now time to jump in line for my democracy sausage – have an egalitarian weekend all!

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