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Wed 29 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. Virgin Chairman to stand down

chatfield - karryon

Picture: Neil Chatfield. Image Source: Courier Mail.

After seven years as Virgin Australia’s chairman, Neil Chatfield will step down.

He will stand for re-election at Virgin’s annual general meeting in November, to “ensure the stability of the board”, and remain until a suitable replacement is found.

“After seven years as chairman, having seen through the company’s transformation to a diversified airline group under the leadership of chief executive John Borghetti and the successful completion of the game change program strategy, I believe that now is a good time to transition to a new chairman,” Chatfield said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I will remain chairman for as long as it takes to find a suitable replacement for the role and am committed to supporting the recruitment process.”

Chatfield was appointed a Virgin Australia director in May 2006. He was named chairman in June the following year.

Read on for more.


2. Ensemble to assemble in Australia/New Zealand

ensemble - karryon

Ensemble Travel Group, a leader in the North American travel consortia market, announced plans today to initiate a global expansion into Australia/New Zealand in 2015.

According to Ensemble Co-President Lindsay Pearlman, the expansion to Australia/New Zealand is a natural next step for the growing travel group.

“Ensemble is a nimble and dynamic group, and our agent- and partner-focused model is right for today’s thriving Australia/New Zealand market,” she said.

Heading up the Ensemble expansion in Australia/New Zealand is new Ensemble Senior Vice President and General Manager Trish Shepherd, a travel industry veteran with a successful track record in regional and international partnerships and strategic alliances.

“There is an incredible opportunity within the Australian/New Zealand market to create a new program for travel professionals, one which put the needs of its members first,” she said.

Read on for more.


3. Drop in dollar not affecting US/Aus. travel

Australian travel - US travel - KarryOn

Despite fall in dollar, Australians still happy to fly to the U.S for business and leisure.

The fall in the Australian dollar has yet to lead to a significant rise in Americans booking flights to Australia but nor has it led to a fall in Australians booking flights to the US, United Airlines senior vice president of sales Dave Hilfman told Fairfax Media.

“Ticket sales across Americans and Australians are pretty evenly split,” he said.

Mr Hilfman said United was “not at all” concerned that the fall in the Australian dollar could lead to lower numbers of Australians flying to the US.

“The US continues to be a popular destination with Australian tourists,” Mr Hilfman said. “They’re still heading north to explore a huge variety of cities, shop and do business.”

United recently launched its new non-stop Melbourne-Los Angeles route with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft with 252 seats.


4. Qatar experiencing record visitor surge

Qatar - karryon

Qatar Tourism Authority has released figures showing that the tourism industry in Qatar continues its strong performance.
The data were released in QTA’s first half 2014 report, covering the period from January to June and comparing performance to the same period 2013.

All key indicators of the tourism sector demonstrated improvement and growth, with capital Doha setting the trend.

“This report demonstrates Qatar’s progress toward becoming a developed and sustainable tourism destination,” said Hassan Al Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer at QTA.

“Confidence in Qatar’s tourism sector remains buoyant and our efforts continue to bear fruit in terms of promoting and developing the sector.


5. Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Oman Air leading the pack in culinary offering

airline food - karryon

Saveur magazine’s annual dining survey, using a panel of 36 experts and a selection of readers,has ranked airlines according to the quality of their online culinary offering. Singapore Airlines received top ranking when it came to economy class food offering.

Qantas was acknowledged by both as having the best inflight wine program.

Meanwhile, readers and experts differed when it came to first and business class dining. Experts veered towards Emirates, while readers went for Oman Air.


6. 2014 Melbourne cup carnival takes the win at VIC tourism awards

melbourne cup

On the eve of the 2014 Melbourne Cup Carnival, last year’s event was announced the winner of the Major Festivals and Events Category at the RACV Victorian Tourism Awards on Monday night.

The 2012 Melbourne Cup Carnival won the same award perviously before winning the Major Festivals and Events category at the Australian Tourism Awards.

Australia’s original major event generated $364.5 million of gross economic benefit to the state economy in 2013, with event motivated interstate visitors spending $177.5 million during their stays in Victoria.

The 2013 Melbourne Cup Carnival is now in the running to go back-to-back in the national awards later this year.

The home-grown Melbourne Cup Carnival generates incredible local and international media coverage, attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Melbourne while stimulating the accommodation, fashion, retail and hospitality sectors.

VRC Acting Chief Executive Julian Sullivan said the Melbourne Cup Carnival positions Melbourne as an appealing destination for sport, fashion, food and lifestyle on a global stage.

“The Carnival continues to go from strength to strength, with the celebration that stops a nation increasingly capturing the attention of the world,” Sullivan said.


7. NZ tourism in good nick to reach 2025 goals

new zealand - karryon

New visitor spend figures show New Zealand’s tourism industry is on track to achieve its goal of almost doubling tourism revenue by 2025, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

International visitor spending climbed 7.4 per cent, while the total number of international visitors rose 5 per cent, the latest Tourism Satellite Account from Statistics New Zealand shows.

“This shows the industry is achieving its Tourism 2025 goal of growing value faster than volume,” TIA Policy and Research Manager Simon Wallace said.

“It also puts the industry well on the way to achieving total tourism revenue of $41 billion by 2025.”

Mr Wallace noted that the figures show the tourism industry is recovering from the global financial crisis, with international spend now back at 2007 levels.

“There’s no room for complacency. We need to build on the momentum and seek out the opportunities offered by events like the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2017 World Masters Games to encourage increased spending by international visitors.”

Tourism continues to support 8.3 per cent (166,800) of all New Zealand jobs.


8. Alitalia to sack just under 1000 employees

alitalia - karryon

Italy’s largest airline Alitalia has announced plans to lay off nearly 1,000 employees, according to reports.

The carrier is planning to let go of 994 staff, an Italian news agency said at the weekend.

In a document signed by the airline’s management and a number of labour unions, the airline revealed plans to cut down on 879 ground crew, 61 pilots and 54 air stewards.

It is understood that the employees will start receiving letters of notice from October 31.

Reduction of employees was one of the conditions in an agreement signed between Alitalia and Etihad Airways to sell 49 per cent of its stake to Etihad, in a contract signed in August.

The deal was designed to recapitalise Alitalia, which has seen losses of around €1.7 billion.


9. Most epic safety video ever made goes viral

With close to 120,000 people viewing it online every hour, Air New Zealand’s latest Hobbit-inspired safety video, The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made, has become the airline’s most popular video to date, clocking up a record 16 million online views within a week of release.

The video stars cast members from all three films in The Hobbit Trilogy including Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins), Dean O’Gorman (Fili the Dwarf) and Sylvester McCoy (Radagast). It also features cameos from The Hobbit Trilogy director Sir Peter Jackson, Weta Workshop Co-Founder Sir Richard Taylor and the director of the video, Kiwi filmmaker Taika Waititi.

The large-scale viewing of the safety video reflects the fans enthusiasm for the December release of the highly anticipated The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM).

Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development Jodi Williams says the airline is thrilled by the popularity of the video.

“We set out to make the most epic airline safety video ever to celebrate our three-year partnership with The Hobbit films and the uptake has been just that. The number of people watching it, the feedback from customers and the coverage generated by global media outlets has been outstanding,” Williams said.

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made has quickly eclipsed the airline’s first Hobbit-inspired safety video, An Unexpected Briefing (2012) which clocked up more than 12 million global online views.


10. North Korea invites travellers to peak at the pariah state

kim jong-un - karryon

Perhaps there’ll be a chance to sip tea with Kim?

In a bid to capitalise on its rank as a pariah state, ruled by the iron fist of dictator Kim Jong-un, North Korea has launched a series of leisure trips for travellers champing at the bit to see the isolation of communism in in all its glory.

These trips will be promoted at World Travel Market (WTM), the leading global event for the travel industry. They aim to attract travellers seeking run in the Pyongyang Marathon next April, ski on North Korea’s uncrowded mountain slopes, or visit ancient temples.

Shanghai-based Nathalie Armengol, managing partner of Experience North Korea, will be exhibiting at WTM in November to meet travel buyers from across the globe to consolidate the firm’s pioneering position in the market and challenge perceptions about the country.

“We have to admit we were a little bit hesitant at first, but we were blown away,” she said.

“We always joke and say that going to North Korea is like going to another planet.”

Fewer than 5,000 foreigners enter North Korea each year.

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