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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New System to Identify Hotel Room Trashers

Ubid4rooms Debuts System to Help Travellers Avoid Guests Behaving Badly

Australia’s world-first flexible rate website,, has become the first accommodation site in the country to activate a new service – Guests Behaving Badly – that automatically alerts hotels to troublesome customers at the time of booking.

Guests Behaving Badly (GBB) - - provides hospitality members access to an online database used by hotels to identify guests with a recorded history of anti-social, intimidatory and destructive behaviour. GBB members can also lodge verified complaints against hotel customers on the database.

The founder of, Gary Berman, said the GBB database would automatically alert hoteliers if customers booking via Ubid4rooms were on the database.

“We’ve introduced access to the GBB system via Ubid4rooms to help hotels avoid troublesome customers and ensure consumers enjoy a trouble-free stay,” Mr Berman said. “Prevention is better than a cure and what GBB does is provide peace of mind and security for everyone staying in a hotel and those who manage and own the property.”

Mr Berman said hospitality providers were keen to minimise the hefty cost and effects of inappropriate behaviour such as theft, vandalism, large parties, loud noise , offensive behaviour and misuse of facilities.

“The vast majority of hotel customers are dream guests but there are individuals who have little or no respect for the property or rights of others and GBB helps hotels pro-actively manage this risk. We felt GBB was an important service to offer Ubid4rooms customers and the properties who bargain with our customers to fill beds.” allows travellers to make their own offers for rooms up to 28 days in advance at rates better than those advertised. Unlike e-bay auctions, bidders don’t compete against other bidders and confirmation is provided within three hours, often minutes. The process results in a confidential, one-off deal struck directly between the hotel and the customer.

More than 700 properties across Australia are now ‘haggling’ with consumers on the site, including premium properties such as Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast.

“Consumers have become much more savvy and aggressive in their hunt for good deals so hotels need to be more flexible on rates and realise that profits can still be achieved through controlled discounting,” Mr Berman said. “Nothing changes if nothing changes so our bidding system is an ideal way for accommodation providers to try something different to boost business. And GBB is a great new way for hotels and travellers to safeguard their security.”

* For more information on Guests Behaving Badly, visit

Monday, September 21, 2009

PATA Gold Awards 2009

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 PATA Gold Awards, sponsored by the Macau Government Tourist Office. This year the awards recognise the achievements of 24 separate organisations and individuals.

For 2009 there are 23 PATA Gold Awards to be presented, with multiple awards going to Hong Kong Tourism Board, Korea Tourism Organization and Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The awards ceremony takes place on September 25th during PATA Travel Mart 2009 in Hangzhou, China (PRC).

PATA Grand Awards are presented to the outstanding entries in the four principal categories: Marketing, Education and Training, Environment and Heritage. This year the Grand Awards go to Visa Worldwide Pte. Limited (Marketing); Bintan Resorts (Education and Training), Spice Village Thekkady, India (Environment) and Temple Tree, Malaysia (Heritage).

Full list of 2009 PATA Gold Awards

New Zealand Voted Best at Destination Branding

New Zealand has come out on top in a survey asking tourism organisations from around the world to rank the best destination brands.

The survey, published by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and European Travel Commission (ETC) asked 165 National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) what countries they considered to be good at destination branding.

New Zealand received the most nominations, ranking the country as 'best' at destination branding – ahead of India, Spain, Australia, Dubai and Ireland.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said that, coming in the same year as the 10th anniversary of 100% Pure New Zealand, the survey was a fantastic reinforcement of the effort and perseverance that has gone into building the brand.

Survey respondents cited the consistency and credibility of 100% Pure New Zealand. They said the strong imagery of the campaign, the instantly recognisable brand and the strong positioning statement ("100% Pure") set New Zealand ahead of other destinations.

Respondents praised New Zealand for addressing the country's isolated location "at the edge of the world" and turning that into a positive.

They also considered the brand as successful in "going beyond tourism" to pull-together a number of different sectors under a unified country proposition.

George Hickton said the result recognised the efforts of the tourism industry over the past 10 years in supporting the campaign and delivering on the promises made through '100% Pure New Zealand'.

"A successful brand like 100% Pure is more than just a logo and advertising. The efforts of the tourism industry to deliver quality, innovative products and to reflect the values of the brand in their own work has been critical to its success."

The survey was part of a wider study on what NTOs perceive is important in destination branding, their current branding practices and willingness to share.

The results were published in the recently release ETC/UNWTO Handbook on Tourism Destination Branding.

Find out more about 10 Years of 100% Pure New Zealand:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

ZUJI Awarded 5 Stars For Medical Insurance

Online travel agent ZUJI Australia has been awarded a prestigious 5 star rating for its Medical Travel Insurance product by Canstar Cannex, Australia's leading financial research and ratings agency. a website that rates and compares insurance and financial products. Canstar Cannex's inaugural report - declared ZUJI's Medical Travel Insurance the winner alongside Worldcare Travel Insurance, for offering significantly cheaper premiums for comparable coverage than is available on many other online travel sites, and for its unlimited overseas medical cover.

Peter Smith, General Manager ZUJI Australia says "We are thrilled to have our medical insurance product recognised as excellent value to consumers in such a significant and objective industry comparison. At ZUJI Australia we are dedicated to helping holidays happen. Making great travel insurance available at low premiums is one way we do this. Another is our recent step to remove all online bookings fees on our web site, thereby making travel more affordable than ever before in these tough economic times."

ZUJI Australia's award-winning medical insurance can be purchased online at  

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Aussies still avoiding Fiji despite massive holiday discounts

A Special Industry Insider Report by John Alwyn-Jones, eTravelBlackBoard’s Special Correspondent

A Sydney Morning Herald Report this week says that despite, massive discounts at luxury resorts, Australian travellers are still avoiding Fiji, with the latest figures showing Australians and New Zealanders are still staying away from Fiji and especially the resort strip of Denarau.

The report goes on to say that visitor arrivals to Fiji are down 30% compared to this time last year and occupancy rates are below 50%, a drop from the healthy 70% in previous years, with visitors to five star resorts including those on Denarau most affected, despite massive discounts of up to 80% offered on hotels and flight deals designed to counter the slide.

On top of this, three major developments on the island have hit trouble in recent months, including receivership of a Hilton resort extension that was funded by dozens of Australian and New Zealand investors.

eTravelBlackboard has reported an number of times on the challenges facing Fiji and in particular I have said for a number of years that discounting is not the answer for hotels, because if affects the price point and perceived value of that room or stay in the eye of the consumer, which when discounted is then very hard to get back to previous values. Offering added value is the key, but never affecting that perceived value or price point.

Fiji has also had more than its fair share of problems over recent years, not least of all the coups, but also the January floods deterred thousands from visiting over summer and of course, the global economic downturn has had its effect – and of course, the perception of the country's political leadership by a military regime has also taken its toll. Much of that though is actually is media hype in Australia and New Zealand with travel advisories being used as political sanction tools by Australia and New Zealand.

Please be clear, there is no risk whatsoever in visiting Fiji and I will be doing so again very shortly. Also, be clear that by Aussies and Kiwis not visiting Fiji, it is only the people of Fiji that suffer, not the political adversaries!

I have just returned from Vanuatu and interestingly business is booming, with hotels full and yields and rates strong – there are also plenty of Aussies and Kiwis in Vanuatu, with no sign of the effects of an economic downturn.

In Fiji, as reported by the SMH, there is no doubt that Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s refusal to return the country to democracy before his chosen election date of 2014, the suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum, the cutting of aid funding from the European Union and, just this week, ousting from the Commonwealth, are all playing their part in Fiji's tourism slump, but it also appears that Fiji’s, recent “Fiji Me” ad campaign has had less impact than anticipated or needed to boost visitor numbers to Fiji.

Dr Steven Ratuva, a Fiji academic at the University of Auckland, said in the SMH that politics plays a big part in Fiji's tourism slump, adding, "The regime might not like to think so but the coup and the unsettling relationship between Australia and New Zealand and the Fijian government is undoubtedly putting people off visiting," and, "It's not that it's unstable there. It's actually quite fine at the moment.” "But people don't like the rift and have a lurking fear things could boil up." He also says tourism is an extremely sensitive industry, and even though the suspensions do not alter security in Fiji, it affects the "imagination" of tourists, adding, "They imagine something has changed and that's enough to stop them going," the specialist says.

He also says that the paradox is that a 2007 survey showed Fiji was one of the top 10 marketable names in the world, with several European businesses using the word to benefit from "romantic" connotations, adding, "And yet you have Fiji itself struggling to use the benefits of that very sellable name to generate economic benefits".

Other islands in the pacific, including Vanuatu, who are about to launch an extensive new campaign and brand, and Samoa and Cook Islands are all sadly for Fiji, cranking up their tourism to take advantage of Fiji’s problems with Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, an open critic of Fiji's regime gleefully telling the SMH that their campaign was working at Fiji’s expense, adding, "Of course, because Samoa is better". Mr Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi – what happened to friendship and cooperation when a fellow Pacific Island was suffering?

Very strangely, the International Federation of Journalists this week also appears to have joined the trash Fiji campaign, calling for travellers to rethink any plans to holiday there, with the group's Sydney based spokeswoman, Deborah Muir, telling Radio Australia," Tourists who go there blithely unaware of the reality of the quite severe repressions being inflicted on the people of Fiji are supporting a dictatorship with their tourist dollars,".

If all tourists around the world followed Ms Muir’s advice, their travel would be restricted to very few countries indeed!

Frank Yourn, executive director of the Australia-Fiji Business Council, thankfully says that advice is misguided, saying, "It's not a matter of propping up the dictatorship; it's really a matter of trying to ensure the economic survival of people who are really suffering quite badly."

Dr Ratuva also dissuades tourists from voting with their feet, saying, "Life is too complex for travellers to be basing their travelling decisions on who is running the country", adding, "Think of George Bush for instance, and John Howard, too" “I didn't like Howard's political stance but I still went to Australia. "That's just life."

I fully agree with Frank Yourn and Dr Ratuva and it is time that the Australian and New Zealand Governments to get off Fiji’s back or at least the Fijian people’s backs, because at the end of the day, they and not the Fijian Government are the only people that suffer as a result from Aussies and Kiwis not visiting Fiji.

Over and above all their lofty political objectives, it is a mystery to me what Australia and New Zealand and for that matter Fiji, all hope to gain by continuing their ongoing disagreements. Somebody, somewhere, potentially even at United Nations level needs to intervene in this ongoing political impasse or the financial and social consequences for the Fijian people, tourism and the overall economy, will be very serious indeed with the potential of Fiji’s tourism industry collapsing in heap – with the consequence then being that the rescue will be a lot more serious than it is now – perhaps that is what the Australia and New Zealand Governments want?

Journalists call for Fiji travel ban

Source: TravelMole

Calls by a journalists’ organisation to encourage travellers to boycott Fiji – which last week was turfed out of the Commonwealth – have not met with universal support.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) wants travellers to rethink any plans to holiday in Fiji as a protest against the regime of Commodore Frank Bainimarama and the government’s media censorship record.

The IFJ’s Sydney-based spokeswoman, Deborah Muir, told Radio Australia that anyone thinking of holidaying in Fiji should reconsider.

"Fiji is no paradise right now. Any advertising campaign that says it is a paradise is false advertising,” she said.

But Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he would not be advising Australians to boycott holidaying in Fiji because it would only hurt ordinary Fijians.

“We've never wanted to do things that hurt the people of Fiji and the great regret in all of this is that Fiji should be a premier country in the Pacific, it should be a premier economy," the minister said.

Frank Yourn, executive director of the Australia-Fiji Business Council, said the innocent would suffer from a travel boycott, not the interim government.

"It's not a matter of propping up the dictatorship; it's really a matter of trying to ensure the economic survival of people who are really suffering quite badly," he said.

Tourism Fiji regional office in Australia turned down TravelMole’s request for a comment but the Fiji Times quoted Tourism Fiji chairman, Patrick Wong, who said the issue “is political and unlikely to have an impact on the industry”.

He said Fiji has always been a safe holiday destination, and restrictions, unrest or military action have not affected visitors to the country.

However, the latest arrival figures show Australians and New Zealanders are staying away from Fiji in droves.

Visitor arrivals to Fiji are down 30 percent compared to this time last year and occupancy rates sit below 50 percent.

Follow this discussion on Travelmole

Monday, September 7, 2009

'WE GAVE OUR TODAY: BURMA 1941-1945’ by William Fowler

Reviewed by Stu Lloyd.

Fowler has created a highly readable account of one of the most pivotal theatres of World War Two. For Burma was the Allies’ overland route into China, and the Japanese’ overland route into India.

While often considered the ‘Forgotten War’ after the rapid domino collapse of Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore, and the subsequent focus on Europe, Burma was riddled with epic surprise: the battle front stretched nearly 700 miles, secondly in length only to the Russian front, and the Allied assault crossing of the Irrawaddy in February 1945 was the widest ever in history encompassing 200 miles of bridgeheads.

Burma was where the myth of Japanese invincibility was finally turned around, resulting in the War’s longest campaign, starting in 1941 with the Japanese driving the British back up towards India before the amazing turnaround of General Slim’s 14th Army to completely rout the Japanese just before the atom bomb dropped. The Japanese left 13,500 dead around Kohima and Imphal alone in their largest defeats.

Fowler makes good use of secondary sources to flesh out episodes from all combatants’ perspectives, none more hyperbolic than Slim describing the plains of Burma as ‘some of the world’s worst country, breeding the world’s worst disease, and for half the year at least the world’s worst climate.’

While Fowler writes with the strategic and tactical insight of a former soldier (he served in the 1990-91 Gulf War), the narrative sometimes bogs down like a jeep on the Burma Road during the ‘mango rain’ monsoons. But he admirably distils a complicated and protracted campaign involving the British, Americans, Indians, Chinese ‘and others’, plus the Japanese, down to its essence.

With colonial touchstones such as Rangoon, Mandalay, and the Irrawaddy River, We Gave Our Today is subconsciously imbued with the spirit of Kipling and his ilk, and one can’t help feeling maudlin for Burma’s dive-bombing trajectory ever since.

We Gave Our Today: Burma 1941-1945, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, $55, hardcover.

Stu Lloyd is a travel writer and author of The Missing Years. He also conducts military history tours of South-East Asia.

Viva Las Vega

Stepping into Las Vegas, it is easy to forget you are in the middle of a desert. That is, until your hair starts to stick to everything because of the dryness. Despite this, the abundance of fountains, bodies of water and water features will still try to convince a visitor to the city that they are not, in fact, playing on a pile of sand.

And they do exactly that. Hoards of people descend on Las Vegas, or lovingly known as Sin City, each day to play; there is a great excess of things that will entertain, whether it is the trademark casinos or dancing girls or bright lights or cabaret shows or theme shows or theme parks or rides. You name it. They will have it.

While it is hard to list one of the top entertainment options in Las Vegas, a must-do experience that must be done by visitors is Fremont Street. Now some may wonder, ‘how do you do a street?’ Well Las Vegas makes it possible with Fremont. It is a five-block-long cavalcade of bright lights that totally captivate visitors with their cheesy light-and-sound shows lit on a huge arched steel canopy. Go wave at the happy cowboy who cocks his hat at you and get neck problems from staring at the amazingly captivating lightshow that is shown each hour off the street’s canopy. It is tacky, but so are outlet stores and do we ever stop going to them?

Of course, the other (many) must-see attractions in the city are the casino shows. It is most likely that visitors to the city will be staying at one of the numerous casino-slash-hotels sitting along the strip, so all visitors will have to do it head to the front of their casino and get a show. There is much to offer – Treasure Island has a Pirate Show, a lava-filled volcano erupts each hour at the Mirage, water jets are choreographed to the sound of Beethoven at the Bellagio. Everywhere you go, there is something to see.

But do not be fooled into thinking that Las Vegas is all over-the-top hustle, big hair, gold credit cards and neon cowboys. Look beneath the shiny surface and visitors will see much more than meets the eye. In the city, there is the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum. Paying homage to the world-famous art gallery, the Rem Koolhaas designed museum houses works from the impressionist, post-impressionist and early-modernist era. Because of a partnership with the State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg, the collection is guaranteed to grow.

For nature lovers, there is also the MGM Grand Lion Habitat. As the home of several African lions and cubs, the Lion Habitat is not a cruel display of animal control – these animals reside on a 8.5-acre ranch 12 miles away from the MGM Grand to ensure that they are close enough for Vegas visitors to visit and far enough to ensure that they have enough peace and space to grow and flourish.

There are also a range of zoos and botanical parks that will give visitors a sense of the natural beauty that co-exists with the artificial neon beauty of Las Vegas.

No matter what you want, Las Vegas will have it. While it is a commonly heard phrase that does not always deliver, it is not the case with Las Vegas. It has all the fun, excitement and debauchery that everyone occasionally itches for, but then it doesn’t trap visitors in this loop. There is an offering of culture and nature that completes Las Vegas as the perfect heaven and hell on earth.

For more information, visit the Las Vegas Tourism website at

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cruising to boost tourism to Christmas Island

Christmas Island will see its first ever visit from a cruise ship in December following the Federal Government’s decision to invest $3.5 million on improving its mooring facilities.

The first ship to visit the island will be P&O Cruises’ Pacific Sun, which is owned and operated by Carnival Australia on December 23.

It will be the first four visits by the ship between December this year and February 2011, with an estimated 7600 passengers in tow.

“This is a significant step for Christmas Island because it creates an opportunity for the island to develop its tourism industry and deliver economic benefit for its community” said Carnival chief executive Ann Sherry.

“Christmas Island’s unique wildlife, including the annual migration of the red crabs, and natural features makes it an appealing holiday destination for Australians.

She added that Carnival Australia had received positive reception from the Christmas Island community, who are keen to see tourism develop in a way that meets their expectations and protects the island’s natural features.

The cruising industry has grown and average of 18 per cent a year for the past six years and is expected to contribute about $1 billion to the Australian economy this year alone.

Trafalgar Square: top attraction for international travellers

Trafalgar Square is the top tourist attraction in the UK according to new research from First Rate Exchange Services.

The majority of the 2,500 international travellers from the USA, Ireland, Spain, France and Germany that were interviewed said they most wanted to visit Trafalgar Square during their time in the UK.

Tower Bridge, London Museums, Buckingham Palace and Oxford St were the next top attractions, respectively.

Americans indicated that a visit to Buckingham Palace was a must whilst over half (51 percent) said a visit to Buckingham Palace was a top priority.

Edinburgh Castle, Oxford University and the White Cliffs of Dover were in the top spots for the French as they wanted to venture out of the capital.

Tourists from Ireland were more inclined to visit Oxford Street and the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham as they prioritised shopping.

International travellers visiting the UK were also found to be more wary of fees incurred when using their credit and debit cards, with only 51 percent using their cards during their stay and using a travel money card or travellers cheques instead.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Winners Announced in ASTW Travel Journalism Awards for Excellence

In announcing the winners of the 2009 ASTW Awards for Excellence Travel Writer of the Year and Travel Photographer of the Year Awards, President Kris Madden said that in spite of the difficult economic climate in 2009, the response to this year’s awards had been exceptional.

“While the world economic climate has given us all cause for concern, I am very pleased to say that it did not impact on the overall quality or number of entries in this year’s broad range of ASTW Awards,” Kris said.

“Supporting the view that Australians are always and will always be interested in travel and unique destinations, even in difficult financial times, a record number of more than 330 published entries were received for the 2009 ASTW Travel Journalism Awards for Excellence held in Bangkok on Saturday 20 August.

Out of this impressive display of travel journalism and photography, Louise Southerden (pictured) was chosen by the judges as the 2009 Travel Writer of the Year and Mike Larder was voted the 2009 Travel Photographer of the Year.

The prestige and prizes associated with winning these top ASTW awards is enhanced by the invaluable support of the event key sponsor, the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

“Through travel comes knowledge. Through knowledge comes understanding. Through understanding, we all create a better world,” said Kris.

“That is what travel journalism and photography is all about, creating broader understanding and appreciation of different cultures.”

Responsible Tourism Story - Sponsored by California Tourism
Louise Southerden

Best Trade Industry Story - Sponsored by Virgin Blue Airways
Jane E Fraser

Best Portrait - Sponsored by Langham Hotels International
Mike Larder

Best Image Taken in Aus - Sponsored by Langham Hotels International
Cathy Finch

Best Image Taken Overseas - Sponsored by Langham Hotels International
Mike Larder

Best Australian Story Under 1ooo Words - Sponsored by Small Luxury Hotels
Natalee Ward

Best Travel Journey - Sponsored by Vroom Vroom Vroom Car Rental
Daniel Scott

Best International Story Under 1ooo Words - Sponsored by Small Luxury Hotels
Philip Game

Best Australian Story Over 1ooo Words - Sponsored by Preferred Hotel Group
Robert Upe

Best International Story Over 1ooo Words - Sponsored by Fraser Suites
Julie Miller

Best Shanghai Story - Sponsored By Shanghai Municipal Tourist Office
Julie McGlone

Best Regional Tourism Board - Sponsored by Virgin Blue Airways
Great Ocean Road

Best State Tourism Board - Sponsored by Vacations & Travel Magazine and Golf Vacations
Tourism Queensland

Best International Tourism Board - Sponsored by Holidays for Couples
Tourism Authority of Thailand

Communicator of the Year - Sponsored by
Michelle Armstrong and Pongsak Kanittanon

Jack Butters award for Contribution to ASTW
Alison Scott

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ten things every Australian should experience before retirement

Why put off that well-earned holiday until tomorrow? With plenty of great Australian holiday deals on offer, experts are encouraging us to not hoard our annual leave until we retire, but to use it to experience Australia and escape the pressure of the workplace for a few days or more.

Getting out of the office and taking a holiday not only benefits our health and can help us reconnect with family and friends, it can also provide long-term professional benefits, improving productivity and increasing morale when returning to work.

Acting as a timely reminder of the importance of taking your entitled annual leave, especially during times of reduced resources and increasing workloads, Tourism Australia’s No Leave No Life program aims to encourage Australian employees to take their leave and explore Australia’s many experiences on offer.

Research shows that Australian workers who work long hours also tend to take work home to complete and these hours do not necessarily equate to productivity. Long hours are a good predictor of role overload, work interference with family, alongside burnout and physical and mental health problems which are not sustainable over the long-term*.

For anyone needing further incentive or inspiration, here is a checklist compiled by the State Tourism Organisations of quintessential Australian experiences that every Aussie SHOULD think about doing whilst on holiday:

1. Embrace the wide open space which can be only truly experienced in the Outback and get back to basics. Kick off your shoes and walk barefoot upon Australia’s famous red dust and gaze up to the sky for nature’s show of shooting stars.
2. Feel energised again. Breathe in the fresh air and feel the salt spray wash away the cobwebs as you wander out to Australia’s most easterly point, Cape Byron and be the first to welcome in the new day.
3. Dreaming of a Mediterranean escape? Fill a basket full of local goodies, find some grass for a rug and picnic amongst vineyards and olive groves along the Mornington Peninsula.
4. Get active and kit up for one of the world’s most amazing snorkelling experiences. Dive into crystal clear water and immerse yourself in the magical underwater world at one of the greatest natural wonders in the world - the Great Barrier Reef.
5. Bring out the artist within and rediscover your creative streak. Feel inspired as you lose yourself for the day amongst 100,000 impressive works featured in the National Gallery of Australia.
6. Remember what it’s like to “feel alive” and get the adrenaline pumping as you glide like a bird over Tasmania’s Hollybank Forest Reserve on a treetop tour.
7. Join the festival merry-go-round in Adelaide with friends this summer. Allow yourself to be tempted and spoilt by the finer things in life and
indulge in the array of food and wine, sporting and musical events on offer.
8. Reignite romance and passion with your loved one. Take a slow camel ride along Cable Beach at sunset and upon return enjoy a glass of
bubbly and private dinner for two on the water’s edge.
9. Get away from your computer and rediscover the true meaning of adventure. Hike through Kakadu’s National Park of lush green valleys and
be guided by the sound of Gunlom Falls’ water cascading for your next “cool down”.
10. Recharge the batteries. Pack the car and kids and set off on a road trip following Australia’s famous coastline. Spend the days building sandcastles, exploring rockpools, and playing cricket on the sand. Pitch the tent, take long walks along the beach, cast the rod, catch some dinner and fire up the BBQ.

The program’s website provides regular, up-to-date tips and tools to help every Australian tackle the issue of stockpiled annual leave and plan an unforgettable holiday in Australia.

Jetstar, V Australia in Fiji showdown

The ability of Qantas to be nimble in countering rivals and increasing competition is again being tested with the carrier’s plan to use its Jetstar subsidiary on services to Fiji from next April.

Qantas has applied for traffic rights on the Australia-Fiji sector just days after Virgin Blue's V Australia applied for similar traffic rights.

Qantas says it wants to have an additional 1,491 seats per week on the Sydney-Nadi route to be flown seven-times-weekly by Jetstar using Airbus A321s.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Scott Rochfort said while the move is set to undermine V Australia's planned entry on the route it would deal an even more debilitating blow on Air Pacific, part-owned by Qantas.

He said the move has fuelled suspicions Qantas is looking to sell its stake in the Fijian national airline, which is 51 per cent owned by the Fijian Government.

At present, Qantas's only presence on the route is through a codeshare it operates with Air Pacific.

V Australia plans to replace some of its Virgin Blue 737 services from Sydney into Fiji using 360-seat B777-300s.


Australia's Airline Satisfaction Survey

click for enlargement

Tiger Airways now has the ignoble title as Australia’s worst airline, with only 55% customer satisfaction received in a recent survey conducted by consumer magazine Choice.

In a survey of major domestic carriers and their satisfaction results Virgin Blue won top honours with 68% satisfaction, climbing up from its second place position from last year and edging out Regional Express from its top spot.

Qantas sat in the middle of the list of five at third with 61% satisfaction, only slightly ahead of Jetstar, who was voted as the second least favourite carrier with a 60% satisfaction rate.

If it was any comfort for the much harangued carrier, Tiger Airways did come first in the sub-category of “value for money” with 75% satisfaction, narrowly edging out Virgin Blue who scored 74%.

In all other areas of in-flight service, seat comfort, ability to get a convenient flight, and booking process, Tiger Airways sat either last or second last on the list.

“Since Tiger Airways became Australia’s third budget airline in late 2007, domestic air travel has never been more affordable,” said Choice in its report.

“With return airfares between some capitals now costing less than $50, including taxes, flying interstate is often cheaper than driving.

“Greater competition among domestic airlines is pushing prices down. But consumers still expect a reasonable standard of service, among other things, to rate an airline as providing “value for money”.”

Interestingly 40% of travellers cite “value for money” as a major factor in their choice of airline, while 32% say frequent flyer points are important, and another 28% say schedules are important.

For those still flying with Qantas, the popular frequent flyer scheme was the main motivator, as was “force of habit”.

Source: e-travelblackboard

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places