Weekly wrap – 8th July 2023

Senior journalist JANIE MEDBURY wraps up the week that was.

CRUISE was in the spotlight this week, with several major developments including a new partnership between the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG). The landmark deal will see all FCTG leisure agents granted access to the Association’s globally recognised training.

This week also marked two significant moves within the cruise sector, with the sale of Unique Cruises to Chris and Gemma Watson’s Rediscover Travel, and a potential new acquisition for the New Zealand-based Heritage Expeditions, which announced its takeover of collapsed US tour and cruise company Vantage Travel Services – although Aurora Expeditions also flagged interest in the deal at the 11th hour but is likely to have missed the boat.

There were some exciting revelations, with APT Travel Group unveiling its new ship, MS Estrela, which will offer itineraries on Portugal’s Douro River starting next year, operating under both the APT and Travelmarvel brands. Meanwhile, Ponant offered a first look at its zero-carbon ship, which will combine six “groundbreaking” technologies in an effort to minimise its carbon footprint. Dubbed Swap2Zero, the futuristic vessel is slated to set sail by 2030.

Adding to the excitement, Hurtigruten celebrated its 130th anniversary this week, with members of the local community joining staff, crew members, and guests for a day of festivities held at the cruise line’s birthplace Stokmarknes, on the Norwegian island of Hadseloya.

In the world of air travel, it was a good news week for Aussie flyers, with airlines announcing increased frequencies, launching new routes, and kicking off huge sales and rewards offers, including Emirates’ expansion of its Skywards loyalty program. Now, members in Australia can earn Miles with over 300 brands via the airline’s online Skywards store.

Vietjet increased its Australian services for the second time in less than two months, including daily return flights from Ho Chi Minh City to both Sydney and Melbourne from December. The low-cost carrier also announced a 24-hour flash sale yesterday, giving Aussies the chance to score airfares discounted by up to 77%.

Jetstar also kicked off a massive sale, offering Bali holiday packages starting from $442 per person, as well as announcing the launch of direct flights between Melbourne and Fiji for the first time, which will take off from mid-December.

The first week of July also saw some big moves from big players in the travel industry, with Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) introducing its new TPConnects NDC-compatible flight booking platform, to which its entire Independent division now has full access, while FCM, the group’s corporate offshoot, won a $75,000 contract to manage international travel for the NT government for the next three years. The lion’s share of that same $3 million contract went to Corporate Travel Management which will look after domestic travel for the Northern Territory – another notch in the CTM belt after last week’s renewal of the Federal Whole of Australian Government contract.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) was in the spotlight after tripling its customer dispute solve rate over the last six months – a key feature of the support provided through the Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS), according to CEO Dean Long. Meanwhile, partnerships were made and strengthened this week, with Link Travel Group signing on Complex Travel, and itravel renewing its ticketing agreement with CVFR Consolidation and welcoming two new affiliates. As well as all that, the pending acquisition of Express Travel Group by Helloworld Travel is continuing to proceed, with Express Travel Group delightedly confirming that all of its agents requiring transition to the new Express Tickets system were successfully transferred by the 30 Jun deadline.

Have a great weekend


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