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AN AVIATION revolution is needed to ensure Australian consumers are better supported.

That was the message delivered by the Australian Travel Industry Association (ATIA) to a Senate inquiry into Bilateral Air Service Agreements.

With international fares from Sydney in 2023 up to 99 per cent higher than pre-COVID and a lack of competition and capacity, ATIA claims revolution rather than a recalibration of Australia’s aviation industry is needed.

“Until consumers are at the heart of decisions being made about which airlines fly in and out of Australia, and it’s not just about the impact on airlines, we won’t see improvement. The current approach was born in 1944 and it’s frankly outdated,” said Dean Long, ATIA CEO.

“In the 12 months to August 2023, over 10 million tickets worth nearly $14 billion were issued by Australian travel agents. We know where the pain points are because our members are continually fixing up the problems created by the cancellations and delays and refund/credit issues.”

Among the reforms ATIA believes are critical are:

  • The need to simplify refund rights for consumers where a flight is cancelled and passengers not accommodated on the same day as that present in the EU for statutory compensation in certain instances of delay or cancellation
  • Expansion of Australia’s ‘open skies’ air services agreements from nine to a level comparable with leading aviation markets (U.S. has 100 open skies agreements, Canada 23)

ATIA is calling for a reshaping of the way decisions are made about which airlines are allowed to fly in to Australia so that the benefits and impact on travellers is included in the ‘national interest’ requirement.

ATIA is also asking for more transparency in this process including the provision of written reasons.

“Without a strong consumer protection framework that is fit-for-purpose in the aviation industry – like that present in the EU for statutory compensation in certain instances of delay or cancellation – Australian consumer outcomes will remain sub-optimal.”

The senate inquiry into Bilateral Air Service Agreements


A NEW role has been created designed to strengthen the cruise industry’s presence among policymakers and stakeholders across Australasia and the South Pacific.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has appointed Hugh Cavill as Director of Government Affairs in Australasia.

“The international cruise industry is as a major generator of employment and economic opportunities in Australasia and our engagement with governments will be increasingly important as we work to develop sustainably into the future,” said Joel Katz, CLIA Managing Director in Australasia.

“Hugh brings a great deal of skill and experience that will help focus attention on our industry’s economic importance, its tourism contribution and its leadership in pursuing a net-zero maritime sector globally.”

Based in CLIA’s Sydney regional headquarters, Mr Cavill will work closely with cruise line leaders and industry stakeholders to represent the interests of the Australasian cruise sector to governments and the wider business community. 

He supports CLIA’s international role as the leading voice of the global cruise industry, joining a network of government affairs and advocacy executives in CLIA offices across North and South America, Europe and Australasia.  

Mr Cavill joins CLIA with extensive experience in state government, tourism and transport, having worked in senior policy and strategy advisor roles for several NSW Ministers including former NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole.

He was a past advisor to former NSW tourism ministers Adam Marshall and George Souris and assisted in the development of the NSW Cruise Development Plan.


THE HAWAII tourism industry will concentrate on the three C’s as it continues to deal with the aftermath of the tragedy on Maui.

Traveltalk attended the Aloha Down Under 2023 media briefing in Sydney recently where local representatives of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) mapped out future tourism targets and key messages for 2024 and beyond.

Some 17 tourism operators from Hawaii were in attendance at the event staged at Pier One.

“We will be looking at connection, culture and culinary, delving deeply into the relationship Hawaiians have with the land, the ocean and their culture,” said Anna Riedel, Public Relations Executive, Hawaii Tourism Oceania.

“We will be giving visitors a deeper understanding about the Hawaiian islands and why they are so special and how businesses can play a role in their protection and regeneration.”

On the topic of culinary experiences, Ms Riedel said food and drink was emerging as one of the biggest travel trends post-COVID.

“Travellers are seeking culinary adventures and to sample authentic ingredients, cuisines and drinks. They really want to dive a little bit deeper and get that whole mix of flavours, textures and the people and place who go with them.”

Ms Riedel also revealed that the key markets HTA will be targeting will be families and couples.

“There are some great food options and attractions for the grown-ups and some soft adventure and cultural experiences for the kids.

“Couples make up our biggest visitor segment. Research has shown that younger couples are more likely to be mindful and responsible travellers.”

Naturally the fires on Maui were front of mind at the event and Ms Riedel added that some areas north of the affected region will be fully reopen on October 8.

“The Hawaiian islands rely heavily on tourism so we really want to emphasise the importance of travel to the rest of Maui and the other Hawaiian islands.”


THE HOUSE of Travel Group has launched a group-wide cruise strategy to ensure it is ready to capitalise on the sector’s potential for expansion.

A newly created, joint Cruise Product and Wholesale team will be led by Jeff Leckey in the role of General Manager Cruise – Australasia.

The move is in response to predictions released earlier this year by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). It claimed that a growth in global cruise capacity (forecast to increase by 19 per cent between 2022 and 2028) is expected to be met by an ongoing surge in demand for cruise travel.

“House of Travel Group’s new cruise strategy is an indication of its commitment to the cruise sector,” said Joe Araullo, CEO of House of Travel Australia (pictured above).

“It will allow us to capitalise on the combined volumes and expertise we already have. There is massive potential for growth and we’re excited to enter this next phase in building our cruise business.”

Lia Malone, TravelManagers’ Cruise Product Manager, is also joining the new team, which is tasked with developing outstanding cruise product that will be taken to market through the House of Travel’s and TravelManagers’ networks of travel advisors.


THE TRAVEL industry is set to welcome back a familiar name with news that Infinity Holidays is returning.

The Travel Junction announced their rebranding to the multiple award-winning wholesale company at an event in Sydney recently.

“The Travel Junction has grown significantly since launching to the Australian market in 2020 and it’s time for our business to continue its evolution to a full-service multiple award-winning wholesale brand,” said James Whiting, General Manager.

“We know our agents are time poor. Their clients expect more support, more options and more expertise than ever before, and we want to support them. The industry needs a proficient, full-service wholesale offering.”

The rebrand also launches Infinity Holiday’s Atlas hotel range, a hand-picked, global collection that is IH’s top selling product range. Agents selling the Atlas range will also receive an extra one per cent commission until the end of the year.

“We have always been known by our partners for our world-leading products, highly experienced wholesale sales team, national network of BDMs, unmatched 24/7 support and the powerful simplicity of our platform, Helio. 

“We take the complexity out of booking travel for the trade and put world-leading solutions into our partners’ hands, giving them access to exclusive pricing, high availability and great commissions, and ultimately the best travel experiences for their clients. That won’t change.”

Infinity Holidays offers agents more than 300,000 products to book, including 50,000 directly contracted products plus air and ancillary.

“Infinity Holidays will be the go-to partner of the global travel trade, with simple supply solutions that power endless growth and unbreakable partnerships,” said Graham Turner, Flight Centre Travel Group CEO.

Travellers Choice Managing Director Christian Hunter and Chairman Trent Bartlett


TRAVELLERS CHOICE members are the big winners after the group announced a pre-tax operating profit of $2 million for the 2022/23 financial year.

The company will return most of the profit directly back to its members – who remain the company’s sole shareholders.

Members will get a six per cent unfranked dividend (30 cents per share) along with trading rebates based on sales of preferred partners.

Travellers Choice Managing Director Christian Hunter says the result represents a robust return to profitability – and profit distribution – for the national network, whose member shareholders have shown “remarkable dedication and resilience” over the past few years.

“Since the reopening of domestic and international borders, members have seen an outstanding resurgence in sales,” said Hunter.

“At the same time, our company has continued to exercise prudence in terms of operational expenses. These factors have contributed to a financial performance that exceeds expectations and budgets.”

Profits not returned to shareholders will be directly invested in further expanding the company’s broad range of support services.