Weekly wrap – 4th March 2023

ADAM BISHOP wraps up the week that was in travel and tourism.

This week proved that good intentions don’t always count for everything.

CATO’s decision to take on sponsorship dollars from Visit Saudi for its upcoming event championing women in the travel sector was met with a mixed reaction at best from the industry this week. It’s fair to say the weight of responses were critical of the decision, despite CATO maintaining aspirations to highlight the role that tourism can play in bringing about positive change. Within 24 hours of announcing the sponsorship deal however, CATO had changed its position, conceding it had not effectively read the room. “We accept misreading this situation, despite our best intentions, and apologise for any distress this matter has caused our industry colleagues and our board,” a statement noted. CATO added that alternative sponsors would now be sought and announced prior to the gathering in Sydney.

Meanwhile AFTA revealed a new draft version of its Constitution this week, labelling the launch an important step in building a “more inclusive association for the future.” The changes include a new voting structure which moves away from physical locations, with votes (and membership fees on a sliding scale) to be allocated based on TTV instead. AFTA also noted that its bid to be more transparent and inclusive meant it was now consulting with not only its members but travel stakeholders who sit outside of the AFTA family. In further news, AFTA also revealed some of the panellists who will appear at its Women in Travel Summit on Monday 13th March. Among the names revealed were Travel Agent Achievers’ Roslyn Ranse; Nicola Strudwick, General Manager – Sales at Travellers Choice; Kathryn O’Brien, General Manager Australia at Air NZ; Abbe Lunn, Key Partnerships Manager at Intrepid Travel; and Senior Manager Sales AUS/NZ at Norwegian Cruise Line, Angela Middleton.

Moving to China now and the country’s belated travel resurgence is representing opportunities all over the globe, with Tourism Australia’s (TA) MD Phillipa Harrison making a personal journey to the Chinese mainland this week to talk up Australia as a preferable travel destination for Chinese travellers. Before the pandemic hit, China was Australia’s number one source market after taking top spot from the Kiwis a few years earlier, and as bilateral relationships continue to improve, TA is looking to tap the well once again, revealing plans to launch strong marketing activity in China to help restore the market and give a much-needed boost to Australia’s battered visitor economy.

This week Qantas was also very active in the news cycle, headlined by a major restructure at the top that will see the highly respected former Air New Zealand executive Cam Wallace take on the role of CEO of International and Freight. Wallace will take over part of the job from Andrew David, who has overseen Qantas’ Domestic and International operations since the two roles were combined early on during the pandemic. The move has sparked plenty of watercooler chat about whether the changes are the early trackwork for replacing long-standing CEO Alan Joyce. Many pundits have the race down to three people: new recruit Wallace, Qantas Loyalty Chief Executive Olivia Wirth and Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson.

In other news, the carrier was also granted interim authorisation for continued coordination with Jetstar’s Asian brands, Jetstar Japan & Jetstar Asia, by the ACCC. The Qantas/Jetstar authorisation request was one of three Qantas pacts highlighted by AFTA in late January when it lodged submissions to the ACCC commenting on the proposals. Qantas also announced its plans to hire more than 30,000 frontline staff over the next 10 years, estimating it will have 32,000 employees by 2033. And also in aviation we saw the new Nancy-Bird Walton International Airport in western Sydney announce its three-letter IATA designator as WSI.

Out to sea in the cruise industry now and the big splash this week was Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours highly anticipated Scenic Eclipse II vessel successfully completing her sea trials in Europe, representing a major step closer to her debut in Lisbon on 13 April. In 2024 Eclipse II will also operate the brand’s first Australian itineraries, with a Kimberley program alongside visits to Polynesia and Indonesia. News also came through yesterday that Cunard’s fourth ship, Queen Anne, will make her first Aussie foray as part of the ship’s 2024/2025 season. She will make her way to Sydney from Auckland, before sailing along Australia’s eastern states on route to Hong Kong, with maiden calls in Brisbane, the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, and Darwin.

We’re looking forward to yet another big week of news next week – in the meantime have a great day!


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