The Road to Recovery

Following the extreme weather conditions beginning in November last year, over 150 Local Government Areas across Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia have been declared natural disaster zones.  Families and individuals, businesses and farmers alike have been left devastated in the wake of one of the worst floods in the country’s history.

Our heartfelt sympathy and support are with those suffering in flood stricken areas.


In Queensland alone, tourism contributes $9.2 billion per annum, directly employs 122,000 people and indirectly employs 100,000 more – and tourism operators are one of the groups hit hard by this disaster.  

However it is not solely the direct effect of floods on operators that presents an issue for tourism, but also the indirect effect on non-flood impacted areas through the traveller perception of destinations resulting in cancelled travel plans. 

Along the road to recovery, both inbound and domestic markets need to be made aware that international and domestic airports, including limited services in Rockhampton, are fully operational and access to most parts of the country continues. Currently the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, Whitsundays, Mackay, Townsville and Tropical North Queensland are accessible with tourism operations in these regions open for business.

Operators will need to focus their own marketing on reassuring travellers and travel industry professionals that their operation is unaffected or recovered, and open for trading.

Industry bodies, government and stakeholders are working together to assist those affected by floods in their recovery:

  • The federal government has announced the Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy providing support for employees, small businesses and farmers who have lost income as a direct result of the floods crisis.  This is in addition to the Australian Government's ongoing assistance to individuals, state and local Governments in the flood and severe weather affected areas across Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia;
  • The Department of Resources Energy and Tourism has activated the National Tourism Incident Response Plan (NTIRP), a national all hazards plan for the Australian tourism industry to support the whole of Government effort;
  • The Queensland Government has established a tourism industry working group within the Flood Recovery Task Force to work with local communities for a successful industry recovery.; and
  • A summary of this assistance is available at Australian Government Disaster Assist.

One way for Australians to help is to holiday within Australia, and particularly Queensland, in order to support those recovering businesses, and protect those that have not been affected.  Before considering changing existing bookings, travellers should check with their travel agent, accommodation or tour provider for latest local conditions.

During this challenging time, Qantas' announcement to provide direct flights between Brisbane and Dallas in the United States is good news for the industry providing Brisbane with a direct link to one of the world’s busiest and largest airports with more than 56 million passengers, 17 airlines and 188 destinations.

In combination with this news, the airing last week of "Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure" featuring many Queensland and Australian destinations couldn’t have come at a better time.  Reaching millions of viewers around the world, this showcased Australia as world class destination and will hopefully contribute to our industry’s recovery. 

Over the coming months and years, we need to retain our focus on working together with all levels of government and industry to implement recovery initiatives, communications strategies and continue crisis response to ensure the industry returns firmly back on its feet as soon as possible.

Tony Charters


Conference call for ASEAN not to follow the west
Delegates as the ASEAN Tourism Forum conference in Cambodia last week were urged to celebrate and protect the diversity of ASEAN cultures rather than pursue the sameness of western cities and destinations.

Assoc. Prof Bill Carter of the University of Sunshine Coast Australia warned of the risk of producing tourism destinations in the same mould, thereby reducing the diversity and richness of culture and experiences that ASEAN countries have to offer.

“Health standards, quality related to service levels and transport and good presentation are important and should be developed. But celebrate your unique architecture, music, cuisine and way of life – that is what international tourists will value – and pay a premium to experience,” Assoc Prof

Another keynote speaker, Queensland based Archaeologist Gordon Grimwade said his key message for ASEAN countries was for heritage site managers to ensure that they have good visitor management processes.

“It is vital that important heritage sites are properly managed and not visited to death.”

He said training and skill development for guides was a vital element, not only to improve the quality of presentations for tourists but in order to protect the heritage assets.

“Guides play an important role in informing visitors of the ways they can minimise their impacts and how they can support conservation efforts.”

Adjunct Professor Steve Noakes, representing the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), told delegates of the importance of professional standards across all aspects of tourism management. He said that the rapid growth of tourism in the ASEAN region created an urgent need for countries to move ahead with certification systems that build quality levels.

“Many ASEAN countries have expressed support for certification schemes, many have good policies on certification, but largely there is a lack of action on implementing schemes on the ground. “
Prof Noakes praised the efforts of Thailand with its Green Leaf program. He also praised Cambodia for signing a Memorandum of Understanding that will see the minimum standards of the GSTC applied across an industry certification program.

He said Laos would probably be the most manageable candidate for the development of a certification program in the immediate future given its commitment to ecotourism, work to date on product development and its commitment to quality systems.

Dr Lee Choon Loong CEO of Discovery MICE outlined the significant social environmental and business benefits of pursuing ecotourism. Dr Lee underlined the fact that the diversity of ASEAN culture and environments provided a great competitive advantage to the region. But he warned that there was much to be done to achieve co-ordination across stakeholders, portfolios and governments. Dr Lee outlined the principles of ecotourism – based on work that has been done over the past 20 years across the globe, underlining the need to keep emerging destinations informed of ecotourism principles and practices.

After the ASEAN Tourism Forum a group of about 70 travel buyers from around the world visited Cambodia’s Siem Reap for a two day excursion into famous sites such as Angkor Wat, the Bayan temple at Angkor Thom, Banteau Srei temple and Ta Prohm. These wonderful UNESCO World Heritage sites are extraordinarily valuable to the Cambodian tourism industry and underline the importance of protecting the heritage assets of a place for a sustainable tourism industry.


Bar Coded Boarding Passes

The International Air Transport Association has announced worldwide implementation of the 2D bar coded boarding passes.

The system replaces the previous generation of more expensive and less efficient magnetic stripe boarding passes and gives passengers greater choice in checking-in at home, at a kiosk, on a mobile device or at an airport check-in counter.

It also allows airlines to issue a single, printed boarding pass for multiple flights, simplifying the journey for passengers with flight connections or those travelling on different airlines.

Further information: http://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2010-12-15-01.aspx


Rail Conferencing

Thalys the high-speed train that connects Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne is targeting business travellers as well as leisure travellers willing to pay a premium for guaranteed by offering a meeting room located at the front of the train.

The meeting space dubbed 'Le Salon' is a private room with four comfortable chairs and a conference table plus standard first class amenities like complimentary wifi, meals and newspapers.

Further information: http://www.thalys.com/


Sustainability Report

P&O Cruises has published its first sustainability report in a bid to demonstrate the cruise company’s commitment to the environment. The report provides an insight into the company’s management of its environmental, economic and social footprint. According to the report P&O will also reduce air emission from fuel efficiency measures as well as sign a $1.6 million partnership with the Federal Government’s AUSAid to develop an integrated approach to destination management in the Pacific Islands.

Further information: http://www.pocruises.com.au/aboutus/pages/sustainability.aspx


Sir Richard Branson - Virgin Flight Attendant

Sir Richard Branson will serve passengers on board an AirAsia X flight in February after he lost a bet with the company's chief executive Tony Fernandes over whose Formula One team (Virgin Racing or Lotus) would finish higher in the season's standings.

The Virgin boss will perform regular duties on the flight including cleaning the toilets while wearing a regulation red stewardess outfit along with make-up and high-heels. Seats on the flight will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to a charity of Branson's choice.

Further information: http://www.virgin.com/lifestyle/news/richard-branson-to-be-flight-attendant/


Further information: http://www.sockmobevents.org.uk/

Homeless Tourism

Unseen Tours offer entertaining walks through the streets of London with trained homeless guides, giving participants a historical but also unexplored perspective.

The tours interweave the guides' own stories and experiences giving participants a view of the city through the lens of homelessness while introducing a social element to the commercial walking tours.

Launched on World Homeless Day the tours aim to empower the homeless by restoring their confidence and any profit reinvested into the enterprise to engage more guides and widen the scope of the tours.

Water Campaign

Campaign group Tourism Concern has launched a new campaign demanding action to protect the water rights of communities living in tourism destinations in the face of increasing competition from the tourism industry.

The Water Equity in Tourism Campaign will open up a critical debate around whether tourist's water consumption is being given priority over the needs of local communities. Tourism Concern is also developing water-saving tips for tourists.

Further information: http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/index.php?page=water-equity


Eco-friendly Holiday Report

The World’s Best Ethical Destinations report has been released by not for profit organisation Ethical Traveller to assist people booking their holiday with the names of countries where human rights and the environment are protected. The report showcases the most ethical developing countries based on dozens of sources and extensive research on three areas of protection environmental, social and human rights.

Further information: http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/explore/the-worlds-best-ethical-destinations-2011/

National Tourism Organisation Report

The European Travel Commission and the World Tourism Organization have published a new Report on Budgets of National Tourism Organizations 2008-2009.

The report covers 62 countries worldwide and is a benchmarking reference tool which analyses information on the budgets that National Tourist Organisations allocate for the promotion of inbound tourism, as well as their structure, functions and activities.

Further information; www.etc-

Corporate Social Responsibility Report

Tourism Australia has launched the latest corporate social responsibility report, Destination CSR: How Australia is travelling in 2010. The report was completed following a survey of 347 organisations on their commitment to corporate social responsibility, their level of environmental and other accreditation and how they managed relevant issues within their organisation.

Further information: http://www.businessevents.australia.com/corporate-social-responsibility.aspx


Travel Ideas Competition
Amadeus a leading travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry has launched a new global competition designed to find innovative ideas that will help transform the travel experience.

The competition includes a cash prize of 20,000 EUR for the winning idea plus further cash prizes totalling 10,000 EUR. The winning idea will be selected by a judging panel, with an additional 2,000 EUR each for the top five ides that receive the highest number of online votes.

The competition closes 18 May 2011.

Further information: http://prizedo.com/amadeus-travel-ideas-competition/


Launched four years ago in Australia, SiteMinder links hotels with reservation websites around the world allowing accommodation providers to manage room availability and rates across a multitude of online channels (i.e. Expedia, Booking.com, Wotif and Agoda) from a single web interface.

It has expanded its operations internationally with than 4000 accommodation providers in over 50 countries including UK, Europe, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Asia and the US now using SiteMinder as their preferred solution for online distribution.

Further information: http://www.siteminder.com/


Green Key Global

The Green Key Eco-Rating Programme is a graduated rating system designed to recognize hotels, motels and resorts that are committed to improving their environmental and fiscal performance. The hotels are ranked and measured using a broad matrix of questions related to nine areas of sustainable hotel operations including energy conservation, water conservation, solid waste management, hazardous waste management, indoor air quality, community outreach, building infrastructure, land use, and environmental management.

Further information: http://www.greenkeyglobal.com/


Mara Naboisho Conservancy

Kenya has launched the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, a 20,000 hectare conservancy located within the Great Rift Valley bordering the world famous Maasai Mara National reserve. The conservancy is a community driven initiative to create a wildlife conservation and tourism area that supports the livelihoods of the landowners and surrounding communities. It is a sustainable partnership between Maasai landowners, tourism investors and conservation interests.

Further information: http://basecampfoundation.org/programs/projects/

Nature-Based Tourism Opportunity

The Queensland Government is seeking expressions of interest to develop an innovative, semi-permanent and low-impact, sustainable nature-based tourism accommodation facility at Mount Mee, D’Aguilar National Park in South East Queensland.

Guidelines and eligibility requirements are available online and must be obtained before making a submission.

Proposals close 18 February 2011. Further information: http://www.industry.qld.gov.au/key-industries/823.htm


Champion Indigenous Experiences

The Indigenous Tourism Champions Program is a new joint initiative between Indigenous Business Australia and Tourism Australia that provides select export-ready Indigenous tourism operators with training and mentoring in best practice across service delivery, business operations, administration and promotion.

Champions who successfully meet the criteria of the program will be offered more targeted business mentoring, financial assistance and the opportunity to showcase their products and services at trade shows.

Further information: http://www.iba.gov.au/welcome-to-issue-five-of-


Making Meetings Matter

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ Meetings that Matter program allows groups the opportunity to donate part of their room revenue to the charity of their choice at the brand’s more than 60 hotels worldwide. Companies taking advantage of the program have donated funds to a wide variety of causes and partners including the National Geographic Society, World Wildlife Fund and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

Further information: http://www.fairmont.com/promotions/meetingsthatmatter


National Long Term Tourism Strategy

The Australian Government will invest a further $46 million over four years to implement the National Long Term Tourism Strategy. The additional funding will be used in improving tourism product quality and accreditation, developing a skilled and innovative workforce, unlocking infrastructure investment and promoting natural landscapes, indigenous and cultural heritage.

Further information: http://www.ret.gov.au/tourism/tmc/nltts/Pages/default.aspx


Air Travel Security

A new survey has revealed air travellers would take on average two to three more trips per year if the hassle involved in flying could be reduced without compromising air travel security screening measures for American citizens.

Respondents listed a range of complaints in reference to air travel security including the removal of shoes at customs checkpoints, lack of professionally trained security personnel and efficiency levels.

The online survey sampled 1,000 business and leisure air travellers aged 25 or older who reside in the US and had flown during the past two years.

Further information: http://www.ustravel.org/

Social Media Poll

A recent World Travel Market poll has found that only one in three UK holidaymakers used social media when planning their summer break and the majority of those were likely to change their holiday choices based on testimonials from TripAdvisor, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK holidaymakers found that of those that consulted social media in the decision-making phase changed their hotel, airline, resort, agent, operator and destination.

Further information: http://www.wtmlondon.com/page.cfm/Action=Press/PressID=1736

Further information: http://www.ret.gov.au/tourism/Documents/tmc/stateofindustry.pdf

State of the Industry Report

The first ever State of the Industry 2010 report has been produced by Tourism Research Australia as part implementing the National Long-Term Tourism Strategy.

The report is part of an annual series of publications that will assess the performance of the Australian tourism industry, the longer-term challenges and how the industry needs to respond.


Web School

After recently being awarded an AusIndustry grant, UntangleMyWeb.com has developed MyWebSchool.com providing up to the minute training specifically tailored to helping tourism businesses succeed using online marketing.

Not just a few basic tutorials, this program covers everything from the opportunities the web presents tourism businesses, through to mastering how to maximise bookings on your website.

A free My Guide to Facebook for tourism businesses is available now, or the guide is available at MyWebSchool.com.


Online Marketing and eCommerce Conference

The official U.S. Travel Association endorsed online marketing and eCommerce conference - TravelCom will be held from 30 March to 1 April 2011 at the Palms Resort Casino in Las Vegas.  The conference was created for the travel industry to help demystify and present creative strategies for emerging online channels that result in new conversions, reservations and growth.

Further information: http://travelcomconference.com/