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Fri 22 Aug: 10 Things you Need to Know today

We’ve done all the hard work, so you don’t have to! Read on for our top ten travel news stories we think you need to know today.

We’ve done all the hard work, so you don’t have to! Read on for our top ten travel news stories we think you need to know today.


1. WA repeals Act, AFTA happy

The Western Australian parliament has repealed the Travel Agents Act 1985, giving the State’s agents the same playing field as those operating in all other mainland States and Territories.

AFTA CEO said the “monumental” decision to end licensing for all travel agents comes after “extensive and careful consultation with industry, consumers and within government itself”.

“The Government came to the conclusion that WA could not go it alone and retain a State-based licensing system and compensation fund, as this would put travel agents at a distinct disadvantage when competing with interstate and overseas agents,” Westbury said

The Government Bill passed with bipartisan support of all parties and will now be presented to the Western Australian Governor for royal ascent. The Western Australian act agrees to the transitional arrangements as the Consumer Affairs Ministers agreed on 7 December, 2012.


2. South Africa adds to Ebola-ban

South Africa KarryOnSouth Africa is the latest country to ban travellers from the worst Ebola-hit West Africa nations, following the same move by Kenya and Zambia, in a bid to prevent the deadly disease from breaching borders.

The WSJ reports that South Africa implemented a travel ban for those coming in from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea “for as long as necessary”, a spokesman from the health ministry told the paper.

According to the report, South Africans returning from affected countries would be allowed back home but would undergo extensive medical tests.

The country’s health ministry is said to have advised its citizens to postpone trips to afflicted-countries indefinitely and will only allow travel if “absolutely essential” and would be quizzed by Home Affairs officials before departure.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization continues to urge airlines and countries to avoid isolating the three West African nations saying “Ebola isn’t contagious until symptoms appear, and even then it requires bodily fluid to spread by contact – which is extremely unlikely during air travel.


3. Bula to become niche

Stefan Pichler, Fiji Airways CEO

Stefan Pichler, Fiji Airways CEO

Tourism Fiji’s new chief has already outlined plans to promote the country as one filled with unique cultural experiences, in a bid to move away from the mass-market appeal of a flop and drop holiday destination.

The plan to focus on niche products to increase tourist income, is all part of a broader marketing strategy to add value to visitors, Tourism Fiji Chairman, Stefan Pichler told Pacific Beat.

“We have a lot of room for improvement,” he said.

Fiji’s tourism industry accounts for 38% of its GDP and it’s the country’s biggest employer. Read more


4. Theme parks’ profit takes a dive

GoldCoastAustralia’s Village Roadshow has reported a drop in profit for the year to June, down 10% to $45.8, despite a bumper first season at the new Wet’n’Wild development in Sydney.

SMH reports that more than 700,000 people visited Sydney’s Wet’n’Wild in its first five months this year, presenting the operator with $4.1 million pre-tax profit, even with $5 million in pre-opening costs.

However, its Gold Coast theme parks which include Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild, presented losses to a full-year result of $28 million, partially due to a spending on a joint-marketing campaign with Queensland Govt, the paper reports.

The company’s film distribution arm has also reportedly suffered on the bottom line, due to underperforming titles.

The success of Wet’n’Wild Sydney is said to have been an important “calling card for its planned entry into the Asian theme park market, which includes a water park expected to open in the 2015/16 financial year in China,” SMH reports.

“People will always want to go out to be entertained,” co-chief executive Graham Burke said.

“We have been very successful in maintaining our theatres and theme parks as fashionable and exciting venues that cater to this insatiable demand.”


5. Contiki launches agent site

Contiki-ParisContiki has launched a new dedicated travel agent website, featuring improved features to make booking the youth-orientated products easier than ever before.

The new agent site introduces a range of new benefits including an improved infrastructure making it faster for agents to search and book, a more streamline search optimisation for destinations and itineraries and improved visibility of the ‘my bookings’ section so it is easier to make amendments. The site also includes more visual information on the latest deals, incentives and departures.

“The new agent website not only helps agents deliver fast and accurate results for their clients but it provides a more efficient booking system for agents to easily access information on the latest deals, incentives and itinerary departures to ensure they are delivering the most up-to-date information,” Katrina Barry, Managing Director for Contiki Australia said.


6. Win a trip to Oman

Oman_Fashion_KarryOnThe Sultanate of Oman and Webjet are giving Australians the opportunity to win a holiday of a lifetime to the Arabian Peninsula, less than a one hour flight from Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Boasting four UNESCO World Heritage sites, varied scenery from the dry desert to the sea, Oman Tourism are giving away three Oman experiences – Luxurious Oman, Arabian Adventure and Ancient Culture – to lucky winners. Enter here


7. Drones in Sunshine

Drones spotted over Glasshouse Mountains

Drones spotted over Glasshouse Mountains

Sunshine Coast is set to launch a major promotional campaign later this year, featuring footage captured by remote-controlled drones. The campaign based on the Sunshine Coast’s “Naturally Refreshing” brand, will be launched in major key markets including Sydney and Melbourne, and for the first time, New Zealand due to the launch of direct services from Auckland.

Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) and Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) commissioned advertising agency Mojo and Taxi Film Production to film the natural icons of the region including the Pumicestone Passage, Glass House Mountains, Noosa National Park and Carlo Sandblow.

“Our campaign aims to highlight that the Sunshine Coast offers far more than just sunshine and the coast – as attractive as they are – and the drone technology was perfect for providing a bird’s eye view of landscapes such as the Glass House Mountains, Pumicestone Passage, the Hinterland villages and the Noosa National Park,” said Mr Ambrose.


8. India Visa changes

India (625x469)The government of India will be rolling out biometric data collection for Indian visas globally and from October, Australians submitting applications including visas, passport, OCIs and miscellaneous consular services will require an appointment to be made online together with the online application process. The consulate advises that applications will no longer be accepted from walk-in applicants from 1 October 2014 and all applicants will need to have an appointment made prior to submission.

Furthermore, from 15 October, biometric data collection, including fingerprint data and facial imagery, will be a mandatory requirement for all visa applicants.

“As a result, all visa applicants will need to be physically present (mandatorily) at a visa application centre, by appointment, for submission of visa application and biometric data enrolment,” the Indian Consulate advises.


9. Cheers to a happy 21st, Skal!

Tim Poulter, Stewart Williams, Peter Middleton, Christine Pastakia, Peter Gisborne and current President Karan Singh

Tim Poulter, Stewart Williams, Peter Middleton, Christine Pastakia, Peter Gisborne and current President Karan Singh

Skal North Sydney celebrated its 21st birthday earlier this week drawing a crowd of almost 100 to the Harbourview Hotel, North Sydney. The event also brought in two International Skal delegates, both from Turkey. The obligatory “fine session” was also somewhat celebrated – conducted in fine “rap” style. Sydney is the only city in the Skal network globally to have three separate clubs. Skal North Sydney club was created in 1993.


10. PR stunt turns dangerous

Jet2HolidaysA PR Stunt in Derby, UK, turned dangerously wrong after crowds took to the streets chasing holiday company staff who were handing out free airline tickets.

The Daily Mail reports that hundreds of people turned up across Derby city centre to win a “free break” courtesy of Jet2Holidays, however, many were left injured shortly after the mob scrambled to grab their freebie tickets.

Upon closing off the publicity stunt, people took to social media to label it as “dangerous” and “poorly organised”.

Jet2Holidays offers cheap holiday packages and is based in the UK.

Stan Revers said on Facebook: “People were assaulting the models and fighting over tickets. We saw girls dragged to the ground. Totally traumatising to children.”


What’s your reaction to today’s news? Share your comments and feedback below or send us your news stories for the next edition of Need to Know.