It’s wet in Sydney. Again. But that’s OK – rain or shine, we soldier on! It’s been a short week in much of Australia, but there’s still been plenty of travel industry news around. Tuesday kicked off with a huge Travel Daily issue full of exclusives – the sad death of Max Kingston, the appointment of CVFR’s Airline Rep Services as Qatar Airways’ new GSA in Fiji, Canberra agency Maria Slater Travel moving to itravel, and the launch of Lufthansa Group NDC offers via the Aeronology platform.
That was in addition to confirmation that newly minted lawyer Naomi Menon, AFTA’s long-time head of compliance, is moving on to a role outside the travel industry, to be replaced by former Flight Centre Customer Liaison and Risk Manager, Nina Hedges. Another key industry appointment was also confirmed with AAT Kings naming Troy Ackerman as its new Head of Sales & Revenue, on a 12 month contract.
Later in the week we reported on the new Ritz-Carlton Gold Coast, which interestingly appears to be supported by the strong resurgence in high end domestic leisure travel that occurred during the pandemic. The $480 million project’s developers will be hoping that the shift to big-spending local travel is a long-term structural change, with the new hotel promising to further elevate the Gold Coast as a premium destination when it opens in 2026.
The shock news that Virgin Atlantic will cease flying to Hong Kong after more than 30 years will have rocked tourism authorities in the city to the core. Long seen as a fixture in the VS network, Hong Kong’s close long-time links with the UK are clearly dwindling, and it appears the closure of Russian airspace, adding more than an hour to the flight time, was the last straw for the carrier which noted its sensible commitment to “only operating profitable routes”.
Yesterday Carnival Australia finally revealed the rationale for its now completed restructure within the sales teams supporting P&O Cruises, Holland America and Seabourn, which have seen the recent shock departures of Tony Archbold, Nikki Glading and Sarah Murphy. Carnival VP of Sales, Ryan Taibel, told Cruise Weekly the new arrangements would provide more support for key industry partners – and also interestingly noted that they would allow for diverging commercial strategies to be pursued by the Holland America Line and Seabourn brands as they seek to grow in the local market.
The week wrapped up with the first post-Federal election gathering of Australia’s tourism ministers, who collectively reaffirmed the importance of tourism in the country’s economy by pledging support for both short- and long-term goals, including the THRIVE 2030 plan targeting $230 billion in visitor spending by the end of the decade. I found it interesting that despite the very low unemployment rate and huge skill shortages impacting tourism and hospitality businesses, there was no mention at all of boosting the workforce through measures such as the Working Holidaymaker program or other visa changes. The elected officials instead endorsed plans to “promote the tourism industry to workers as a career of choice” and ensure that tourism training is included in fee-free TAFE programs. All very admirable, but I would suggest unlikely to solve the skills crisis any time soon. There was also interestingly no mention at all of the travel industry.
I must also wrap up by confessing once again that reality TV formed a highlight of my week. I was lucky enough to attend a special preview screening of Channel 10’s new The Real Love Boat at Princess Cruises’ Sydney HQ. This new show, rightly described by Princess’ Stuart Allison as “product placement on steroids” is as thoroughly enjoyable (and thoroughly mindless) as you would expect, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s absolutely incredible to see cruising in the Mediterranean – on a Princess ship no less – being given such a huge amount of positive airtime. After what the industry has been through this truly must be described as a cruising miracle.
Finally, for a bit of much-needed comic relief, can I recommend a quick read of my colleague Adam Bishop’s latest Fake News – it should bring a smile to the lips of just about everyone (unless your name is Gary).
Have a great weekend