Weekly Wrap – 6 May 2023

MYLES STEDMAN delivers some of this week's biggest news.

THE 2023 Australian federal budget is now just days away – the second to be handed down by the Labor Party since its election to government last year – and in the lead-up the travel industry made plenty of its own news this week.

Qantas Group kicked off by finally confirming the November departure of CEO Alan Joyce, with a succession plan seeing Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson to become the next head of the company.

Hudson has worked in a number of executive positions across Qantas over her 28-year career, including Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President for the Americas and New Zealand.

She beat out her higher-profile and perhaps more-fancied contemporaries, including new Jetstar Airways Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Tully, and CEO Loyalty Olivia Wirth – whose name was erroneously dropped at the announcement by the company’s Chair Richard Goyder, instead of Hudson’s.

Perhaps we’ll cut Goyder some slack for his slip of the tongue. It’s been a big week for ‘The Kingmaker’, who the day prior anointed Andrew Dillon as the new Chief Executive Officer of the AFL.

Out with the old and in with the new at the two most scrutinised leadership positions in corporate Australia – but there was yet more churn to come at the top.

The day after Qantas’ news, Helloword Travel announced it had agreed to acquire a 40% stake in South Australia-based retailer Phil Hoffmann Travel (PHT), paving the way for the travel agency’s founder and namesake to retire. Hoffmann retains 10% of the business, but Helloworld also has an option to take on that stake within the next three years. The business remains in the management of 50% shareholder Peter Williams, who will sit on the newly constituted PHT Board alongside Hoffmann himself as an Executive Director and two Helloworld Travel Limited nominees.

Founded in 1990, PHT operates in the retail leisure and corporate travel sectors in nine locations in the Festival State, with over 150 personnel. You would be hard pressed to find a South Australian who has gone on holiday that is unaware of Hoffmann’s legacy.

Despite the coming and going of multiple movers and shakers within the travel industry, Government affairs still remained front-of-mind for the sector’s leaders.

A high-powered delegation encompassing those from around the industry met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong this week in Sydney, led by Australian Federation of Travel Agents Chief Executive Officer Dean Long and Cruise Lines International Association Chair Ben Angell.

The delegation continued its focus on educating Australia’s leaders on the power of ATAS travel advisors, tour operators, and wholesale businesses who help Australians travel.

“This work builds on the successful advocacy that delivered on adding travel consultants to the National Skills List for the first time in over 10 years,” Long said.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Platinum Travel Corporation Chief Executive Officer Andy Buerckner met with Minister for Tourism Don Farrell to discuss the need for ongoing support in the skills space – an area which is the biggest handbrake on our sector’s overall recovery.

Elsewhere in the travel industry, Link Travel Group added two new member agencies, itravel named Joe Karbo as Chief Operating Officer, Cunard Line christened Katie McAlister as President, and a highly successful Australian Tourism Exchange wrapped up on the Gold Coast. And the news will certainly keep coming, with Tuesday’s Budget coming alongside Fiji Tourism Exchange in Nadi which kicks off this weekend, while the highly anticipated christening of Oceania Vista will take place in Malta early next week too.

Best of luck to every sector of the travel and tourism industry this coming Tuesday. The concerted efforts of our industry leaders mean there’s certainly no doubt within Government about the key issues currently confronting the sector. Although it’s unlikely everyone will get what they want, we can only hope as much of the industry as possible comes away pleased.


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