By KarryOn @karryontravel29 Mar 2017Skill up on all you need to know with bite sized travel news designed specifically to help you, the Travel Agent, be your best today and tomorrow. 1. Queensland in damage control after Cyclone Debbie Queensland stood strong and defiant in the face of category four Tropical Cyclone Debbie, which lashed North Queensland’s Whitsundays region. As daylight exposes scenes that local mayor Andrew Wilcox has described as “like a war zone”, the popular tourist destination is assessing the damage and fears are the road to recovery could take its toll on the previously booming tourism industry. Cyclone Debbie is the largest to hit the region since 2014’s Cyclone Yasi and could cost hundreds of millions in not only lost tourism revenue but insurance claims and clean-up. Read on 2. Rumour is, Airbnb is planning to ‘own the entire travel experience’ – like a Travel Agent? The feedback over peer-to-peer accommodation site Airbnb has been so “overwhelmingly” positive that the business is expanding with the aim to one day ‘own the entire travel experience’. ‘Own the travel experience’… like a traditional Travel Agent? We’ll let you decide. Read on 3. Here’s why the future is bright for Travel Agents Things are looking good for Travel Agents, even as dramatic world events and a race to the bottom on pricing continue to rock the industry. In an interview with KarryOn to mark the 40th birthday of independent agency network Travellers Choice, chief executive Christian Hunter expressed excitement about the future, pointing to growth currently underway within the sector. “If you look at the number of consumers using a travel agent, it’s actually increasing,” he told KarryOn. Read on 4. Penny Spencer prepares the diamonds for two more employees Ever wondered just how much truth there was behind Marilyn Monroe’s declaration that ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’? Two employees over at Penny Spencer’s business will be able to tell us later this year when they’re flaunting their own one-carat diamond. That’s right, Penny, who was named top female entrepreneur of the year, will welcome two more of her team members into the ‘Diamond Club’ this year for their 10 years of service. Read on 5. INCENTIVE: Win a $500 Visa Gift Card There are only three more weeks left to participate in Brand USA’s Big Badge Bonanza trade incentive, giving Travel Agents the chance to win a $500 Visa Gift Card. The incentive celebrates the launch of the Greater Palm Springs Specialist Badge added to the Brand USA’s Discovery Program. The enter, consultants need to register as a user on the Discovery Program, complete the Regional Expert Badge and then complete the Greater Palm Springs Special Badge before 16 April 2017. One lucky winner will be notified on 19 April 2017. Click here to register for free. 6. Adventure World supports reforestation project in Rwanda Adventure World has proudly sponsored the planting of four Hagenia trees as part of Wilderness Safaris’ reforestation project in Rwanda Given the strong agricultural model in Rwanda, the country has a limited number of indigenous trees outside of the national parks. The reforestation project which is supported by Adventure World, acts as a vital sustenance for the overall preservation of the region to ensure the protection of the trees for years to come. Wilderness Safaris is due to open its newest property, Bisate Lodge, in Rwanda near the Volcanoes National Park in June 2017. Comprising of six forest villas, Bisate will offer a luxurious base from which to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience as well as a holistic exploration of this beautiful region. 7. Aloha Jetstar! Flights to Hawaii are selling from $259 Ladies and gentlemen, please buckle your seat-belts there’s a booking frenzy up ahead. Jetstar has officially launched its Easter Sale with prices to Hawaii selling from $259. For that price even Moana would toss away the heart of Te Fiti and return to her Hawaiian home. The sale began this week with fares to a number of the low-cost carrier’s destinations dropping to ridiculously low levels including prices for Ho Chi Minh City, Phuket, Raratonga, Queenstown and more. Read on 8. Harry Potter ride gets a magical upgrade at Universal Studios Hollywood The thrilling Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal Studios Hollywood has received a major enhancement with the addition of 4K-HD ride film, which doubles the projection of frames per-second. Changes, designed to offer guests an even more immersive Harry Potter experience, intensify the ride by offering superior clarity and remarkably sharper images than previously shown, with imagery that is stunningly ultra-realistic. An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” is a multidimensional thrill ride located within Hogwarts castle. It features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects designed to take guests on a once-in-a lifetime whirlwind adventure. 9. Holland America & Seabourn staff head out to sea The majority of Holland America Line and Seabourn Sales and Marketing team as well as the Contact Centre team leaders embarked ms Noordam last week for a three-day sales conference to Hobart and Port Arthur. Following a day at sea conferencing, the team then toured Port Arthur and its surrounds, visiting the Historic Site, Eaglehawk Neck, Dog Line, Tesselated Pavement, the Blowhole and Remarkable Cave. This was followed by a day in the greater Hobart region visiting a number of suppliers to Holland America Line’s local shore excursion program including Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Shene Estate for homemade Morning Tea and Gin Tasting, lunch at Coal River Farm and finished off with a wine tasting at Frogmore Creek Winery before everyone headed back to our respective states. 10. Explorer of the Seas seminar at sea for a group of Agents Travel Agents from Infinity and iTravel were lucky enough to board Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas for a three-night sailing. The two groups won incentives to take part in a Seminar at Sea. The sample voyage started on 16 March and saw consultants enjoy many of the ship’s features including its dining facilities, surf simulator and more. 11. Tropical North Queensland wows Travel Agents A Travel Agent who sells Tropical North Queensland holidays using Airnorth’s Toowoomba to Cairns flights secured 99 visitor nights for the destination just days after experiencing it for herself. Sam Newmarch from helloworld was among a group of 14 Agents from the Toowoomba region on a familiarisation of Tropical North Queensland organised by Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) and Airnorth to mark the first anniversary of the Toowoomba to Cairns direct service. The trip included ocean safaris out at the Reef from Cape Tribulation, snorkelling, visits to the World Heritage Wet Tropics Rainforest and more. Newmarch said enthusiasm for Tropical North Queensland enabled her to book a family of nine for 11 nights in the region. 12. Qantas thanks you! Qantas’ latest digital platform – the Learning Hub – has been nominated for this year’s NTIA’s. Read below to find out more. When Qantas began talking about its new Learning Hub, which has forever changed the learning experience for thousands of agents, we all knew they were destined for success. And our intuitions have proven to be correct. Read on 13. Why Chile should be your client’s next adventure Aussies are flocking to Chile in record numbers, according to the latest stats released by the country’s tourism body. And for good reason: Chile has just about everything to appeal to the modern traveller. The destination delivers on value for money, its infrastructure and safety are at an all time high, and its natural landscapes – diverse as they are majestic – has earned it the nickname “the Switzerland of South America.” It’s totally accessible too, with daily – that’s right – daily direct flights from Sydney and thrice-weekly direct services ex Melbourne with LATAM Airlines. Read on 14. Top 5 opportunities along Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West This year marks Canada’s 150th birthday, and what better way to celebrate the land of the Canucks than hopping aboard the quintessential Canadian train experience: Rocky Mountaineer. But not only does this epic rail journey deliver on the historical front. It’s also an itinerary that takes you right into the centre of Canada’s photogenic heart. Here are five of the best photo opportunities along Rocky Mountaineer’s First Passage to the West Read on What are your thoughts on today’s travel news? Share your thoughts below. 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