We’ve done all the hard work, so you don’t have to! Read on for our top ten travel industry news stories of the day we think you need to know.
1. Visa changes opening up new destinations
They may not be the priciest part of the holiday, but they can be one of the most frustrating.
Obtaining visas, particularly when travelling to a developing country, often requires standing in consulate queues – and that’s before days of waiting for approval.
But thankfully, more destinations are starting to see how visas are putting a damper on the holiday before it has even begun.
2. Virgin Australia backs ATAS
Virgin Australia is encouraging more agents to become ATAS accredited, by restricting its credit facilities to certified consultants.
Speaking at an AFTA board of directors meeting this week, Shirley Field said that moving forward, the airline will only offer credit facilities to agents who are under the new scheme.
“Virgin Australia acknowledges the extensive preparatory work led by AFTA in the creation of the new ATAS accreditation scheme.We also value our partnership with AFTA and will continue to support them and the important work they do.”
Shirley Field, Virgin Australia general manager global sales
3. Celebrity orders two EDGY ships
If you love Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium then you’re going to love Celebrity Cruises’ two new ships, which will build upon the luxury experience aboard both vessels.
Announced today, Celebrity said it has signed a letter of intent with French shipbuilders for a new class of vessels.
Signed under the project name ‘EDGE’, the two ships will carry 2,900 guests, weigh around 117,000-gross-tonnage and be 984 feet long.
Richard D. Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ – Celebrity Cruises’ parent company – said the ships will set a new standard for premium world travel with small itineraries and large ship amenities.
4. Fiji Airways to hit a million
Are you by any chance leaving Nadi with Fiji Airways on 20 December?
For the first time in the airline’s 63-year history, Fiji Airways will surpass one million international passengers in a year.
Expected to reach the big number on 20 December, the airline will surprise the one-millionth passenger on a Fiji Airways flight from Nadi with a big celebration, a lasting souvenir plus a return ticket to the destination of his or her choice.
The airline’s chief executive Stefan Pichler said hitting the milestone is a reflection of the hard work done by the team.
He expects next year to grow even further and reach nearly 1.4 million seats.
5. Agents venture into Vanuatu
Completing an online agent training course paid off for 22 Australian travel agents, who won a spot on a week-long famil in Vanuatu.
Led by the Vanuatu Tourism Office, the group ventured to Port Vila to explore the diverse tourism; they got up close and personal with Mount Yasur on the island of Tanna; and took in picturesque views at Champagne Beach.
In addition to enjoying themselves, the consultants gained a better understanding of the destination, which is not only growing amongst Australian flyers, but Australian cruisers.
If you’re keen to learn about Vanuatu you can complete your training at vanuatuspecialists.com.au
6. Industry gets cookin’
Over 150 industry members threw on a cooking apron and showed off their cooking skills at Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel last night.
The group got a ‘Taste of Alberta’ creating Rocky Mountaineer specialties, including roasted beef tenderloin, caramelised shallot compote with merlot wine reduction and maple cured fresh salmon with an emulsified western red cedar dressing.
To help them out in the kitchen, Rocky Mountaineer invited award winning Executive Chef, Jean Pierre-Guerin.
One lucky attendee also won a deluxe Canadian adventure, including flights, a luxury rail journey provided by RockyMountaineer, transfers and hotels from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
7. Qld celebrates 30 years of excellence
The best of Queensland’s tourism industry were awarded for all their achievements late last month at the 30th annual Queensland Tourism Awards.
Held at the Royal International Convention Centre, the night featured commentary from the industry’s early developer, Sir Frank Moore; judge Ian Kean; and Queensland Tourism Awards winner, Pam Hardgrave.
It was a particularly special night for Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort [team pictured above], winning two awards on the night including the Steve Irwin Award for Ecotourism and managing director Peter Gash received the Marie Watson-Blake Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.
Dreamworld was another major winner on the night, taking out the Gold title for Major Tourist Attraction and Capricorn Caves won for Best Tourist Attraction.
8. Luxperience extends earlybird
Australia’s luxury travel and lifestyle exhibition, Luxperience has extended its earlybird deal for agents who haven’t yet booked their tickets to the 2015 event.
The three-day networking opportunity starts on 6 September next year and offers industry members access to leading travel designers from around the world as well as the opportunity to connect with social media’s top influencers.
The earlybird offer is for ten percent off a ticket to the event. It ends 18 December 2014. Click here to register your interest.
9. ‘Cheap’ SQ flights causing industry rift
Has the recent Singapore Airlines’ computer glitch caused problems between you and the air carrier?
For those who missed it: a computer error earlier this week saw some 900 business class airfares with Singapore Airlines sold at economy prices.
The Herald Sun said it’s believed the fares were on flights between Singapore and European destinations and were uploaded incorrectly by the airline.
As a result these cheap fares were sold by online agents around Australia on Sunday and Monday.
Since, Singapore Airlines has allegedly asked consultants to inform their clients of the mistake and charge them the right amount – which in some cases could be more than $5,000.
Those that can’t recover the difference will either have to pay it themselves or issue their clients a refund.
A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told the publication that airfare conditions stated that the price was only valid for economy class tickets.
“We are working with our travel agent partners to ensure that our customers are notified of this issue so that steps can be made to ensure there is no disruption to their travel plans,” the spokeswoman said.
Singapore Airlines spokesperson
Have you experienced any issues? Let us know below.
10. CONFIRMED: Virgin Cruises is coming
It’s official. You’ll soon be able to fly Virgin to your Virgin Cruise using Virgin Money after months of working out at your local Virgin Active Health Club.
That’s right, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has confirmed the entrepreneur is moving into the cruise business with his very own cruise line, Virgin Cruises.
Starting up with two new-build ships, the new Virgin off-shoot is being backed by asset management firm, Bain Capital and is expected to set sail in 2017.
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