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Thu 2 Oct: 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 industry news stories of the day we think you need to know.

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. ACCC not opposed to Expedia Acquisition of Wotif.com Holdings Ltd.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will not oppose the proposed acquisition by Expedia, Inc. of Wotif.com Holdings Ltd (ASX: WTF).
“The ACCC noted the concerns raised by market participants that Wotif represented an important source of bookings for some accommodation providers and that its removal from the Australian market may result in them paying higher commission rates to online travel agents (OTAs),” ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims said.
“However, the ACCC found that there has been considerable change in the competitive dynamics of the online accommodation distribution market in recent years. This has included new entry by a number of competitors and business models, including Booking.com, which has grown quickly to become the largest OTA in Australia,” Mr Sims said.

Read on for more.

2. Aussies vote top 10 travel destinations

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Australia’s top 10 destinations for 2014 have been announced following a national consumer poll conducted by leading travel experience provider, Experience Oz. The national poll, now in its second year, revealed Western Australia’s spectacular Rottnest Island as the number one destination to experience in Australia for 2014, closely followed by last year’s winner, Queensland’s stunning Whitsundays. Western Australia’s Margaret River was recognised in third place.

Rottnest Island Authority CEO, Paolo Amaranti said they were thrilled to have received the coveted number one position in the poll.
“We are working hard to ensure the Island’s naturally outstanding beauty is kept at its best all year round and welcome visitors from home and overseas to join the happiest animals on earth, our quirky quokkas, in the world’s most distinctive Island paradise,” he said.

Read on for more.

3. Whale of the skies becomes world’s weirdest plane

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Aptly named ‘Airbus Beluga’, the A300-600ST Super Transporter is the whale of the skies and provides a unique way of transporting oversized cargo. Developed to carry sections of Airbus aircraft from different production sites around Europe to their finally assembly line in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, it is also used to transport special delivery items.

The fleet of five Beluga aircraft perform more than 60 flights each week and each plane can carry a load of 47 tonnes over a range of 1667 kilometres. Its special cargo has included a famous painting from the Musee du Louvres in Paris to Tokyo, helicopters to Australia and a 17.6 metre long chemical tank weighing 39 tonnes.

Space hardware manufacturers also use the Beluga for transporting its space station modules, launch vehicle hardware and delicate satellites as the aircraft can provide temperature controlled conditions for its sensitive cargo. The Beluga is operated by a three-member crew including two pilots and a loadmaster and has one of the biggest cargo holds of any civil or military aircraft flying today.

Read on for more.

4. Airtrain connects business to beach and back in Brissy

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Holidaymakers and business travellers alike are set to benefit from cheaper and more streamlined trips following the introduction of a raft of new ticketing initiatives from Airtrain, the premier rail link connecting Brisbane Airport to the city’s centre as well as the Gold Coast and suburbs.

Launched to deliver improved value and flexibility to those travelling to and from Brisbane Airport, the offerings include a 10 per cent discount for all online bookings and new, substantial discounts for groups of two or more. Web group fares attract top savings with prices starting as low as $27 for two people travelling from the Airport to the city, substantially less than the cost of the $43 average taxi fare equivalent during peak and off peak times.

Available for iPhone, Brisbane Airtrain’s new e-ticket app is the first of its kind in the Australian public transport industry and allows passengers to pre-purchase tickets to and from the Airport and Brisbane City.
The app can also be used to display a ticket barcode when entering and exiting a station and features timetable information and a handy “Next Trains Today” function, which shows the next train departure from any station on the Airport and Gold Coast lines.

5. A&K invites travellers to sample the tastes of Morocco

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Global travel company Abercrombie & Kent has launched a new, hosted small group journey to Morocco. Led by well-known cook, TV personality and self-proclaimed ‘gastronaut’, Geoff Jansz, this culinary, and cultural, odyssey takes no more than 24 guests on a journey of discovery through this most intriguing and exotic destination.

Guests will dine with locals, explore markets, taste the produce and learn the intricacies of Moroccan cuisine as well as being part of some special experiences uniquely tailored by Geoff. Journey highlights include one-on-one interaction with Geoff Jansz and local A&K guides, exclusive culinary experiences, a variety of excellent, well located five star city hotels, market visits, cooking demonstrations and tastings, guided tours of Casablanca, Fes, Rabat and Marrakech as well as a visit to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains.
Tour dates: 1 – 10 November 2015
Price: Twin share per person: $6,895, Single supplement: $2,255

6. Virgin and Delta expand codeshare

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Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines today announced they will be expanding their partnership in North America, adding three new destinations as part of their codeshare agreement. Customers of both airlines will now be able to fly from Australia to Nashville, Kansas City and Raleigh/Durham as part of the alliance’s continued commitment to strengthening its footprint in the US market.

The growing alliance between the two airlines, which was launched in 2011, now offers Australians access to over 245 destinations across North and Central America. Flights between Los Angeles and Nashville will operate daily, Los Angeles to Kansas City services will operate twice a day and 10 flights per week will be available on the Los Angeles to Raleigh/Durham route.

“Our international network continues to expand and we now offer Australians the ability to fly to more than 450 destinations around the world. Thanks to our strong alliance with Delta Air Lines we now have over 245 codeshare and interline destinations available to our customers,” Virgin Australia’s Chief Commercial Officer, Judith Crompton said.

Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines fly from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane into Los Angeles allowing customers to connect onto Delta Air Lines’ extensive North and Central American network.
www.virginaustralia.com and www.delta.com.

7. The early bird gets the Hertz

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Hertz is starting summer early with a sale offering free rental days on car hire across Australia and New Zealand.
The Hertz Earlybird Summer Sale incorporates a range of special offers including:
–          Rent for 10, pay for 7 (receive three free days)
–          Rent for 7, pay for 5 (receive two free days)
–          Rent for 5, pay for 4 (receive one free day)
–          Extend your weekend: Rent for 3, pay for 2 (weekends only)

A wide range of vehicles are included in the sale, with the free days available on all standard car rentals plus selected Hertz specialty collections. The Hertz Earlybird Summer Sale applies to rentals that fall between November 1, 2014 and January 31, 2015, with a blackout period from December 19, 2014 to January 2, 2015. All bookings need to be made before November 30, 2014.

8. Entries open for Maggie’s amazing race

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Magnetic Island, fondly known as ‘Maggie’, is gearing up to host the second annual Adventure Games on October 24-26.
The Amazing Race-style event will send competitors across the Island to participate in a variety of games and sports-based events, mental challenges and local attractions – all for points on a score card that could land teams some fantastic prizes.
Activities Coordinator, Joel Savage from Adventurethon said the best part about the weekend was that it would cater for people of all ages, abilities and fitness levels.
“We’re expecting teams of families, school groups, corporates and travellers to be registering over the next month, and estimate the 2014 Adventure Games will attract more than 300 entrants,” Mr Savage said.
Registrations for the 2014 Adventure Games are now open.

9. British Airways teams up with X Factor for final auditions

Watch the 2013 finale here:

The X-Factor UK has teamed up with British Airways, as the official airline to fly its celebrity judges and contestants to Bermuda, Cancun, Los Angeles and Nice for the final auditions. The aspiring pop stars travelled to some of British Airways’ most glamorous destinations to perform for judges Simon Cowell, Mel B, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Louis Walsh, in the hope of making it through to the live finals.
Chosen for their exclusivity, glamour and stunning backdrops – the airline has produced packages to each X-Factor destination, for those inspired by the show.

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Guest judge, Louis Walsh lucked out this series by flying to the pink sandy beaches of Bermuda.
“I think it might be the most glamorous destination I’ve ever been sent to,” he said.
“This is a make or break stage for the groups, so it was a perfect retreat for them to unwind ahead of their performances.”

Offering a taste of the showbiz lifestyle, Mel B and the ‘boys’ visited the party paradise of Cancun in Mexico. Contestants stayed at the luxurious five star Occidental Grand Xcaret in Riviera Maya, where they performed for the former Spice Girl and her guest judge Emma Bunton.


10. World exhales as earthquakes subside

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A series of Earthquakes striking Japan last week were feared to be intensifying. However, the tremors have began to subside with the Japanese Meteorology Service citing earthquakes of a 1 degree magnitude in the Ibaraki prefecture.

Japan is one of the most seismically active countries in the world because it is located in a zone where the Eurasian, Pacific, Philippine and North American tectonic plates meet and occasionally shift. It usually experiences 20 per cent of the world’s earthquakes scaled magnitude 6 or greater.

The last destructive earthquake that hit Japan was in March 2011, when an offshore magnitude 9.0 quake, dubbed as the Great East Japan Earthquake, triggered a massive 15-metre high tsunami. It hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, causing the world’s worst nuclear accident since the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

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