THE WEEK THAT WAS – 9th July 2022
By Bruce Piper, Publisher
Welcome to the first edition of travelBulletin’s weekly wrap-up of some of the big news in travel and tourism. We’re hoping this new format provides an accessible way for you to revisit some of the major items in Travel Daily and Cruise Weekly (just in case you didn’t have time to read the daily issues cover to cover)!
It’s a beautiful Saturday morning after a rainy week in Sydney, and I’m looking forward to getting out and enjoying it – and perhaps mowing the lawn – so let’s get on with it.
The biggest news this week – or at least the most significant for the wider tourism and travel sector – would have to be the scrapping of the controversial Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD). The DPD had been hastily put together to collect COVID-19 vaccination details as part of a wider project to remove the need for paper-based inbound passenger cards, but its clunky interface had attracted widespread criticism. Having used it several times myself in recent months I can confirm that when using it on an iPhone, the feature requiring it to scan your passport does work reliably – but only on the third attempt! As a reasonably tech-savvy traveller I found it tricky to navigate, and I can’t imagine the difficulties that many, particularly older, people would have been finding with this process. The removal of any barrier to travel like this is a good move.
Meanwhile the start of the new financial year saw the expiry of many travel agency network contracts, so there wasn’t much surprise on 01 July when the newly formed Link Travel Group announced its first members beyond the agencies operated by founders Penny Spencer and the Goldman family. Nevertheless the news will have certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons, with the travel network landscape starting to look a little different. Link’s gains (so far) are Helloworld’s losses, while the advent of Link is likely to have also put somewhat of a dent in the aspirations of CT Partners which added a number of disaffected HLO members earlier in the year but may see its momentum falter now that there is yet another alternative.
In aviation news, the draft ACCC approval of Virgin Australia’s new “virtual” international network – initially comprising partnerships with Qatar Airways, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines – signals another shift in the landscape. It allows VA to simply resell the other carriers’ flights under its code, without the requirement for it to set its own prices. A pretty major change, and certainly something to watch as it evolves.
Finally, other big news this week was the reboot of the National Travel Industry Awards. The relatively fresh AFTA team is putting its best foot forward for the industry night of nights in October, with revamped categories and a strong focus on ensuring the awards are more than simply a popularity contest. Nominations are now open, with all the details at afta.com.au. After the pandemic forced the event’s cancellation in 2020 and 2021, this year’s NTIA is certain to be a celebration and I’m looking forward to being part of it.
There’s been lots of other stuff happening in the industry, and the new travelBulletin website is packed with analysis and commentary on some of the major issues so check it out. The website also has a new “rants and raves” section so if there’s a burning issue you want to get off your chest please send it through to [email protected] and we’ll put it online – as long as it’s not defamatory!
As for me, the lawnmower beckons, so I’ll bid farewell and you can look forward to another update next weekend.
Until then, all the best from the TB team.