Weekly wrap – 28 January 2023

THERE were plenty of big travel stories floating around this week despite the abbreviated workflow due to the Australia Day public holiday, and it was women working in travel who were the focus of our biggest industry bodies. The Council of Australian Travel Operators (CATO) revealed more details about its big international Women’s Day Lunch coming up in March, with an esteemed list of speakers now locked in for the event. They include Australian Pacific Holdings co-owner Lou Tandy, World Expeditions CEO Sue Badyari, The Travel Corporation’s Managing Director Touring Brands Toni Ambler, Evolution Travel Collective’s joint-CEO Ingrid Berthelsen, and Globus Family of Brands MD Australasia Gai Tyrrell. Meanwhile over at the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), its new Women in Travel Summit was also announced, a day that pledges to celebrate the “empowerment, diversity and inclusion” of the local sector. Also taking place in March, the event will feature a line-up of as yet-unnamed speakers and fun networking opportunities. Both events will take place in Sydney.

In the world of aviation, the biggest news was the hotly-awaited launch of Bonza tickets, which was finally given the green light for take-off yesterday after recently securing its Air Operator Certificate from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. The first flight will leave the Sunshine Coast Airport tarmac on 31 January, with bookings for an initial 15 routes and 12 destinations now accessible via the Bonza app. Staying with flying and it was also a big week for Australian international air capacity, with news of Emirates and a plethora of Chinese carriers announcing more services to Australia.

But it was not all good news for outbound travel unfortunately, with ongoing protests and political instability causing major ructions for the Peruvian tourism sector. Flagship tourist attraction Machu Picchu was shut down indefinitely during the week, throwing the travel plans of thousands of Aussies into disarray and sending operators and agents scrambling to edit travel itineraries.

On the people front, the week ended with the big news that former Holland America Line/Seabourn executive Tony Archbold joining Crystal Cruises as it prepares to relaunch in the Asia Pacific region. Archbold has been appointed Vice President of Sales – APAC for Crystal Cruises, marking his return to the cruise sector after departing HAL in a restructure six months ago. Another big appointment was the news that Greg Parker will become Flight Centre’s new Chief Executive Officer of global supply, with the role to become active when long-standing leader Melanie Waters-Ryan retires later this year. Former Global Group CEO of Wendy Wu Tours Joe Karbo also revealed his return to the Australian market to take up a CEO role with Greece and Mediterranean Travel, which will see him work alongside founder Halina Kubica. 

Meanwhile the biggest waves in cruising were made by the luxury Aman Resorts brand, which revealed this week plans for its first cruise ship, following the likes of other hotel and resort brands such as Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons into the lucrative space. When completed in 2026, the 183-metre vessel will be able to host guests in 50 suites and feature an array of ultra-luxury spaces and amenities. Royal Caribbean also unveiled the launch of its Club Royal Rewards, a new trade loyalty program which allows agents to earn extra commission. Available now, the program is designed to help trade partners learn more about the brand’s product range and current offers, with Australian trade partners given access to exclusive competitions, as well as money-can’t-buy events and experiences.

Finishing off this week’s round-up with a big splash in luxury was Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) signing a preferred partnership agreement with Aussie travel agency Express Travel Group (ETG). The deal has already come into effect and will see A&K’s global travel portfolio promoted through ETG agency member networks, including Independent Travel Group, Independent Travel Advisors, Select Travel Group, italktravel & cruise, as well as Alatus.

Well, that’s the way it was in the wonderful world of travel this week, to everyone still reeling from a sore head after the public holiday, I wish you a restorative recouperation this weekend with plenty of relaxation before jumping back into the fray on Monday.

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