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Wed 20 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. Oh no, another volcano

Airlines have been put on alert after one of Iceland’s biggest volcanoes rumbles to life, threatening a repeat of the 2010 flight-havoc caused by ash clouds from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano resulting in about US$1.7 billion in lost revenue after 100,000 flights were cancelled. Not to be blind sighted and thrown into chaotic disruption this time, European carriers are carefully watching the Bardarbunga volcano after 800 earthquakes in the area raised the risk of an eruption to ‘orange’, the second-highest level. Flights across the North Atlantic, the busiest international travel market, could still be disrupted if ash is spewed from the volcano and wind conditions remain unfavourable, as it can stop turbines by melting and congealing.

Eurocontrol, the region’s air traffic manager, said there is currently no impact on aviation from Bardarbunga, which lies beneath Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier, and last erupted in 1996.

Furthermore, the aviation industry has developed better tools to monitor volcanic clouds since the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, according to a statement from Eurocontrol.

“Europe is more prepared to deal with volcanic ash these days; we have better mechanisms in place than we did in 2010,”

Eurocontrol said.

The Eyjafjallajokull incident stranded 10 million passengers after European officials were forced to close the majority of airspace in the region for 6 days.

2. Don’t get over-excited over Adlux collapse

Excite Holidays are reassuring travel agents that “business is fine” despite reports surfacing yesterday regarding the collapse of its marketing and search provider arm – Adlux. Excite Holidays CEO, George Papioannou was a co-founder in Adlux while Excite’s other founder, Nicholas Stavropoulos was Adlux’s former CEO.

“The unfortunate collapse of Adlux has absolutely no implications for Excite Holidays. In fact, Excite Holidays has experienced year on year growth since its inception in 2002 and growth for the last financial year topped 104%. I’m extremely proud of everything Excite Holidays has achieved through both commercial acceptance by travel agents, and the technological advancements we have made in a relatively short period of time. We are looking forward to continuing our strong relationships with agents in the future,” Excite Holidays CEO, George Papaioannou said.

Mumbrella reported that Adlux collapsed with debts of more than $3.5 million, but Excite sent a statement today advising that “Adlux actually finished as a business a long time ago,” with news only now coming to the surface after gaining media coverage yesterday.

The company provided services for search solutions and display ad placements since 2009, with Mumbrella reporting Joubert Insolvency has been appointed as the liquidator. 

3. Time to clean up China

Beijing has laid out plans to invest US$7.6+ billion in a bid to tackle its air pollution problems over the next five years. China’s capital city is planning to reduce smog and increase reform, focusing specifically on vehicle emissions, dust, industrial and coal-fired pollution, news reports claim. The city has already invested more than 14.7 billion yuan, but the additional funding is expected to support the city’s multi-year plan for controlling and preventing air pollution as it plans to carry out more than 100 environmental protection projects before 2017. 

4. Simplifying rail in Japan

Rail Plus_Suica CardRail Plus has unveiled a re-chargeable smart card for use on Tokyo’s trains, subways and buses – along with door-to-door transfers to and from Narita Airport.

The Suica card, according to Rail Plus product manager Sana Malihi is short for ‘Super Urban Intelligent CArd’ and also a pun on the Japanese word for watermelon – is the equivalent of London’s Oyster Card.

“It offers a smooth and convenient way to travel on transport lines across greater Tokyo, with holders avoiding queues and simply passing the card over a reader, which automatically deducts the fare and displays the remaining balance,” Malihi said.

“When credit runs out the card can be topped up at vending machines displaying the Suica mark.

“Suica can also be used as e-money to buy items (such as drinks, snacks and newspapers) from stores and vending machines, especially within train stations and on the trains themselves.

The card – which is interchangeable with other smart card transportation systems across Japan – is priced from $38, which includes JPY¥1,500 credit.

Rail Plus also offers Japan Airport Coach Transfers – a door-to-door transfer service between Narita Airport and central Tokyo Hotels. Operated by Airport Limousine Bus, the transfers costs AUD$43 one-way.

5. AAT in joint venture with Down Under

ReeefAAT Kings has taken a strategic shareholding in Queensland’s Down Under Tours in a bid to grow the tourism market in Cairns and the Tropical North in coming years.  The commercial partnership ensures Down Under Tours will remain an independent company, with founders James and Gordon Dixon maintaining management control in Cairns.

“Our new partnership with Down Under Tours provides the missing piece of the Australian puzzle for us. We will now be in a position to provide the complete package to our customers and our industry partners around the world, with Down Under Tours’ strength and expertise in Tropical North Queensland adding to the depth of experiences and destinations AAT Kings already offers throughout the rest of Australia and New Zealand,” AAT Kings, Managing Director, Anthony Hayes, said.

AAT Kings and Down Under Tours will work to better coordinate schedules, tour packages and strategy, but both companies stressed the new partnership was guaranteed to be “business as usual” for all partners.

6. Bula to the new Chief

Stefan Pichler, Fiji Airways CEO

Stefan Pichler, Fiji Airways CEO

The Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, Stefan Pichler has been named as the new Chair of Tourism Fiji, for a term of three years. Attorney General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said it signaled an exciting new era for the tourism industry and the Fijian economy as a whole.

“Stefan Pichler brings an unprecedented level of experience to this role … Coupled with his stewardship of our national airline, he is ideally placed to lead our industry and take it to new heights. And his strong commercial background means that  not only will Tourism Fiji be placed on a stronger commercial footing but the highest standards of corporate governance will be introduced to safeguard the interests of Fijian taxpayers, who finance its $23-million a year budget”, the Minister said.

“This appointment underlines the importance the Bainimarama Government places on our biggest revenue earner and our determination to continue to grow the local tourism industry by identifying new markets and opportunities. Never before has the future looked so positive for Tourism Fiji, the health of the industry and the jobs on which the wellbeing of so many Fijians depends”, the Minister added.

7. Closing in on Everest

railThe highest railway in the world, the Qinghai-Tibet rail line in China is about to get even closer to Mount Everest with a new stretch of track connecting the Tibetan cities of Lhasa and Shigatse. The US$2.1 billion project commenced in 2010 and is expected to open later this year giving passengers the ability to connect from Beijing through to the Mount Everest gateway of Shigatse with shorter travelling time and views of the surrounding mountain vistas.

8. Last chance for agents to win

Monaco_KarryOnFrench Travel Connection are urging travel agents to book their clients on the exclusive ‘Passport to Monte-Carlo’ package to enter a draw to win a holiday in Monaco, as the incentive comes to an close at the end of the month.

Exclusive to FTC The ‘Passport to Monte-Carlo’ package includes bonuses such as helicopter transfers from Nice airport (one way in high season and return in low season), special VIP treatments at one of the hotels as well as complimentary tickets to enjoy Monaco’s museums and attractions.

9. Ireland’s virtual walks

Cliffs of Moher Ireland view by KarryOn

Cliffs of Moher Ireland

Local tourism authorities in Co. Clare, have partnered with Google Street View to bring walking trails in County Clare to life. Walkers can experience the trails of Clare from their laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

The walks include a 12km Atlantic coastal walk linking the towns of Liscannor to Doolin via the Cliffs of Moher, as well as the Lough Avalla Loop, the Ballycuggeran Loop, the O’Brien’s Bridge trail, the Carran Loop and the Blackhead trail.

“Ireland is a haven for walkers and boasts an incredible array of walks to suit every level of capability, from coastal, looped, forest and historical walks.  We are delighted that Google are bringing the walks and trails of County Clare to life.  People can now view these stunning landscapes online and hopefully this will bring them one step closer to booking a holiday to Ireland,” According to Diane Butler, Manager of Tourism Ireland, Australia & New Zealand.

10. Busabout to add Asia

BusaboutAsiaBusabout are expanding its portfolio to include Asia from March 2015 with 12 itineraries across Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s Trans-Siberian itineraries will also be offered to link up with the company’s European products.

“Thailand is the fourth most popular destination for Australians to holiday and with increases in airline departures and competitive prices it is the perfect time for Busabout to bring its freestyle travel ethos to Asia,” Busabout General Manager, Tina McIntosh said.

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.