Travel, Tourism & Events

Illuminating how business travel can help navigate global challenges

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham reveals key insights from his upcoming keynote talk at Flight Centre Corporate’s #Illuminate2022 conference


EVEN IN SPITE OF current global challenges of high inflation, supply chain disruptions and the conflict in Ukraine, one of Australia’s leading economists is forecasting that increased travel will be a silver lining for both the Australian and New Zealand economies.

HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham, whose area covers Australia, New Zealand and global commodities markets, has revealed insights from his upcoming keynote presentation at Flight Centre Corporate’s highly anticipated annual Illuminate conference on October 20, which returns as an in-person event for the first time since 2019. 

Mr Bloxham said travel would be a key factor shielding Australia from a hard landing potentially wrought by the slowdown of the global economy.

“Travel is going to be a bright spot in the current challenged world,” Mr Bloxham said. “Households spent less during the pandemic and the country’s unemployment rate has been at its lowest since the mid-1970s.

“As such, Australians have saved over $250 billion and are ready to deploy those funds,” Mr Bloxham said. 

“Now that the world is reopening, there is a strong appetite for travel among the population and we expect to see a continued increase in travel activity, particularly domestically. Australians are also starting to travel abroad again in large numbers.

“Corporate travel is reviving faster than leisure, with businesses returning to face-to-face contact, particularly at conferences and other events.”

Hosted by Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate brands FCM, Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Business Travel, Stage and Screen, and FCM Meetings and Events, Illuminate can make claim to being ‘Australia’s premier annual business travel event that is free to attend’. This year, it will be held in person at The Venue in Sydney’s Alexandria and livestreamed nationally.

At the event Mr Bloxham will also share his deeper and more detailed outlook on the global economy and how Australia and New Zealand are faring against the rest of the world, amid the numerous challenges that have emerged this year. He said many of these challenges which had not been experienced since the 1970s.

“Globally, inflation rates are well above those we’ve seen in decades,” he said. “While inflation is running at around eight percent in US and nine percent in the Europe, its growth in Australia has fortunately been slower.

“We forecast Australia will avoid a recession, unlike some other countries,” Mr Bloxham said.

“Supply constraints are also a deep global issue, because of the impact of the pandemic, the Ukraine war, labour shortages and a shortage of shipping containers. Policymakers – central banks and treasurers – will need to tighten up policy settings to try and slow demand down.

Mr Bloxham said the interest rate increases introduced in Australia, and the subsequent decline in house prices, will help discourage households from spending to ease inflation.

“I anticipate consumer spending in Australia will slow from six percent to close to two percent next year,” he said. “Consumers will also redirect more of their spending to services, including travel and hospitality.

“While this will be a challenge for Asian economies because they are big producers of manufactured goods, Australia – which has a strong service-based economy – will be in better shape. Bringing international tourists back also ought to be a key focus for policymakers and will benefit the economy.

“Closing our borders was a successful strategy in managing the pandemic,” Mr Bloxham said. “However, it did do damage and it will take some time for international travellers to return.

“I expect a travel bounceback between New Zealand and Australia first – something we’re already seeing.”

Mr Bloxham also believes the Australian dollar will weaken further – predicting a fall to USD$0.63 by mid-2023 – which will encourage travellers to Australian shores.

“This will be attractive to international travellers, who may see us as a cheaper option for them, which will be helpful to the economy,” he said. “While it will be slower bringing international leisure travellers back over corporates, their return presents a great opportunity for local businesses.

“Ultimately, Australia’s economy is doing well. Spending is strong, the unemployment rate remains low and the labour market is strong.

“While we are operating beyond our capacity, and it is crucial we slow things down – travel is one thing we expect that people will choose to spend on,” Mr Bloxham said.

Mr Bloxham will present his insights at the Illuminate conference on October 20 at The Venue, Alexandria.

Also presenting key insights for Australian businesses at the event are Virgin Australia CEO and managing director Jayne Hrdlicka, Rex Airlines deputy chairman John Sharp, and Brisbane Airport CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff.

The complimentary event returns in a hybrid format this year and is expected to attract leaders, travel bookers and travel decision-makers from businesses of all sizes. Illuminate also offers guests opportunities for networking and strategising, along with entertainment and prizes for attendees.


Hotels are in for radical change to navigate post-pandemic world

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business

THE HOTEL industry will have to change dramatically to cope with post-pandemic labour shortages. 

Chris Adams, the CEO and founder of the Ellis Adams Group and his international luxury hospitality consulting firm EAG, which is currently opening 100 hotels during Q3 and Q4 of this year, believes the industry must urgently to offer better career paths and conditions for staff.

Mr Adams has the experience to back that assessment up, for his companies are partnering with Marriott International to transform locations for The Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, Westin and Renaissance brands, among others, all over the world.

He said hotels had tried different solutions the labour shortage issue. Some had thrown more money to get people to come back to the industry, while some had looked at bigger perks and better benefits. 

“I think the thing that is holding true for those who are finding success is the ones that are finding ways to cultivate a true foundation of looking after those that they bring on,” Mr Adams told Talking Business.  

“Yeah, everyone wants more money, I think that’s the easy answer. But those individuals who come back to our restaurants, hotels and what-not and when they believe we truly care about them and we’re looking at their future beyond getting us through this shift, and where are we helping you get through this three, five and 10 year career – and we truly care about you – those are the ones that are finding success and getting people to come back to their hotels and restaurants.”


Mr Adams said the mindset of people working in the hotel industry had changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the hospitality industry, people work long hours at all hours of the day, during times when others are catching up with the family or relaxing doing the things they enjoy. COVID-19 changed their mindsets, he said, which meant hotel managers needed to meet them “where they are at” to make the workplace more comfortable for them.

“It’s cultivating an environment where we care about their livelihood and their future and they are not just there filling a cog for us, to get us through the day, a shift or month,” Mr Adams said.

He said the design of hotels, including the centuries old lobby layout, would have to change. These changes were already happening, he said, but the pandemic speeded it up.

“We’re seeing hospitality take a bigger role in hospitality where we have always lagged. Now you’re seeing it come to the forefront faster,” he said.

Designs will also change. He said there was a lot of dead space in the design of hotel lobbies where the check in process takes place.


Mr Adams said technology would make that space more functional and completely change the check-in experience.

With apps, hotels would know in advance when the guest is arriving. The hotel could have a lobby ambassador to greet the guest, but that would “be a far as it goes”.

“We don’t need you to come stand at a desk and spend 15 minutes staring at a computer,” Mr Adams said. “You can walk straight to your room. The app technology will revolutionise the check-in experience.”

This will be seen in the new hotels to start with, but he forecasted that it would be retrofitted to established hotels as owners started to see the return on investment (ROI) on those changes.

Mr Adams said hotels would start being treated like entertainment venues that are focused on the local community – with the restaurant, coffee shop and dry cleaners – which just happen to have fantastic rooms above.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at



Tourism businesses still await critical government support

 WITH JUST a week until the Federal Election, Australia’s export tourism industry remains concerned with the lack of political focus on key government supports which will help the industry’s restart.

“We are nearing the end of the election campaign and some of the key issues facing tourism businesses are yet to be addressed,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“Prior to COVID, tourism exports were a $45 billion industry which drove economic prosperity and jobs, which are particularly crucial to rural and regional areas of Australia. 

“The industry remains particularly concerned about the challenges and roadblocks which are proving to be a hindrance to the industry’s restart and which will only get worse over time if left unaddressed, including our severe workforce shortages which is an issue that has been largely ignored by both parties. 

“Whichever party wins next week, we need the next Federal Government to really get behind our industry and provide a solid set of actions which will be focused on removing barriers to success and turbo charging industry recovery.” 

ATEC’s #itstimefortourism: Recover, Rebuild, Regrow paper calls for key supports, investments and policy considerations which the industry needs to be addressed as the industry begins to rebuild. 

Restart strong – increasing funding for Tourism Australia, extra funding and better targeting of the EMDG program, visa innovation and subsidies for businesses to attend trade events.

Workforce Resilience – extend the WHM fee waiver, invest in tour guide training, the development of an employment and skills online platform and more flexible student visas to allow longer working hours.. 

Capability – programs to support training and capability building, indigenous product development and building regional capacity. 

Distribution and Innovation – innovations for payment processes, promoting leading edge business practices, itinerary development and sustainability. 

“The export tourism industry supply chain is long and complicated and each cog in the wheel needs to work efficiently in order for our visitors to have a great holiday experience and we therefore need to ensure that while we are driving demand, our businesses have the capability to deliver great service when they get here," Mr Shelley said.

“As we continue to increase our inbound visitor numbers month on month, supporting business capacity, rebuilding and re-skilling our tourism workforce will be crucial to Australia's future tourism success.

“After two very long years of border closures It’s time for tourism.”




UNWTO suspends Russia from global tourism body

THE RUSSIAN Federation has been suspended from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), losing with immediate effect its rights and privileges as part of the United Nations travel and tourism agency. On the same day, Russia withdrew from the UNWTO.

Meeting for a first extraordinary UNWTO General Assembly in Madrid, members debated the suspension of Russia from the organisation, as decided by the UNWTO Executive Council at its emergency meeting last month.

The Russian delegation declined to step up and defend its position, and instead announced its withdrawal from UNWTO before the debate took place. 

The Assembly voted in favour of suspension, far exceeding the two-third member majority required. The decision to suspend Russia is effective immediately, from April 28, 2022, while Russia’s voluntary withdrawal is only “effective one year after a member submits an official communication through the appropriate channels” according to UNWTO.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said Russia’s military attack on Ukriane went against the UNWTO's fundamental tenant that tourism was a pillar of peace and international friendship.

“UNWTO’s members have sent a clear message: Tourism is a pillar of peace and international friendship, and members of UNWTO must uphold these values or face consequences, with no exceptions,” he said. “This emergency General Assembly shows that Russia’s actions are indefensible and contrary to the very principles of UNWTO and of international governance.”

In total, 99 countries were represented at the UNWTO Madrid meeting. According to Article 3 of the UNWTO Statutes, all members commit to developing tourism with a “view to contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal prospect for, and observance of, human rights”.

Mr Pololikashvili  said, effective immediately, the Russian Federation would not be able to exercise the rights or enjoy the privileges of UNWTO membership. This means it will not be able to receive services from the organisation, including technical assistance, nor will the Russian Federation be able to participate in any UNWTO meetings or events, be permitted to put forward any candidates to serve on UNWTO’s statutory bodies, or to vote in elections to UNWTO organs or to propose a candidate to serve as secretary-general.

The first emergency session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of six members and at the instruction of the UNWTO Executive Council. The UNWTO Secretariat then provided a comprehensive report to the General Assembly for member states to take an informed decision in relation to Russian Federation’s suspension from membership, following the organisation´s statutes.

The UNWTO Statutes state that any member state may be suspended if two-thirds of their fellow members believe them to be persisting in a policy that is contrary to the fundamental aim of the organisation.

A majority of two-thirds of full members present and voting at the UNWTO General Assembly is required for a motion for suspension of membership to pass. Suspension is temporary and may be lifted, though only by the General Assembly and following the same procedure.


Time for tourism to recover, rebuild and regrow says ATEC

AUSTRALIA's export tourism industry is calling on political parties to make big commitments in supporting the industry's recovery in the lead up to this year’s Federal Election. The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has outlined several key measures which will help tourism businesses to get back into the global market. 

The COVID-19 pandemic decimated the $45 billion export tourism industry, with many businesses having little or no revenue for the past two years.  With the reopening of international borders, ATEC claims the industry needs clearly articulated commitments from political parties which outline their plans to help drive tourism’s recovery and rebuild valuable tourism distribution networks.  

“Australia’s export tourism industry has endured two years of debilitating conditions where many businesses simply had no income or vision on when it would end,” ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said. 

“Now we have our borders open we are seeing the green shoots of recovery and with export tourism businesses looking to rebuild their markets, this an important time for government focus on investing in getting the industry back on its feet. 

“With an election ahead, we are calling on all parties to issue a strong commitment to our tourism industry and clearly articulate their policy platforms which will support its restart.” 

ATEC’s #itstimefortourism campaign: Recover, Rebuild, Regrow paper outlines key supports, investments and policy considerations which the industry is calling on our political parties to endorse with four pillars: 

  • Restart strong – increasing funding for Tourism Australia, extra funding and better targeting of the EMDG program, visa innovation and subsidies for businesses to attend trade events.
  • Workforce Resilience – extend the WHM fee waiver, invest in tour guide training and GoWithTourism Australia and more flexible student visas to allow longer working hours. 
  • Capability – programs to support training and capability building, Indigenous product development and building regional capacity. 
  • Distribution and Innovation – innovations for payment processes, promoting leading edge business practices, itinerary development and sustainability. 

“While we rebuild our industry we also have the opportunity to innovate and improve business practices, support a more sustainable industry and create a tourism industry of the future," Mr Shelley said.

“It’s time for tourism and it's time for our political parties to recognise the important contribution the tourism export sector -- Australia’s largest service export -- makes to our economy, by supporting these simple but effective requests that will enable tourism businesses across Australia to get back to what they do best.”



SME Travel Toolkit launched by Corporate Traveller

CORPORATE Traveller, the small business travel group, has unveiled what it calls ‘the ultimate SME Travel Toolkit’ to give small business owners a helping hand as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and begin travelling again.

As the backbone and lifeblood of the Australian economy, SMEs are playing a central role in fuelling post-pandemic recovery and spearheading the return of the business traveller, according to Tom Walley, Corporate Traveller’s global managing director.

He said Corporate Traveller was already seeing a positive trajectory for early 2022 with a significant uplift in bookings, boosted by the Federal Government’s recent decision to reopen the international borders.

This indicated there was a strong desire for in-person meetings and gatherings for successful business development, customer retention, and networking, Mr Walley said. 

Mr Walley said as the dominant player in the SME travel space – “which counts over 1,500 team members serving over 4,000 Australian customers and more than 16,000 globally” – Corporate Traveller has tapped three decades of industry expertise to compile this easy-to-digest complimentary resource.

Available to read and download via the Corporate Traveller website, the 10-part monthly series tackles the most pressing concerns for SMEs.

Mr Walley said the SME Travel Toolkit would also set out to address the myths of managed travel programs by taking readers through the benefits of “enlisting a business travel pro you can trust and rely upon”.

Mr Walley said many business leaders were faced with a new set of challenges, “especially when trying to navigate international travel in the pandemic-era”.

“Travel today can be an overwhelming experience,” Mr Walley said. “The world has changed, which for budget conscious SMEs, has created a more confusing environment especially for those who previously handled their own travel and simply don’t know where to start.

“With international borders reopened in Australia and travel restrictions easing around the world, the desire to travel and connect face-to-face has increased for businesses … as have complications.

“Through our new SME Travel Toolkit, we’ve set out to share our deep industry knowledge to help small business owners decide how to plan and travel easily and safely.”

With the first and second chapters launching in Australia in March 2022, he said readers could expect to benefit from a variety of educational assets to help improve and inform their business travel choices.

“From providing guidance on how to craft the perfect policy to securing the best rates, controlling, and tracking spending to keeping your people safe, Corporate Traveller promises to discuss the issues that are troubling SMEs while offering practical advice,” Mr Walley said.

In keeping with the company’s customer-centric approach, the SME Travel Toolkit will also share details of real-life client issues resolved with Corporate Traveller’s help and support. Useful checklists and other downloadable tools will be offered too.

While Corporate Traveller envisages this content would mostly appeal to growing businesses that typically organise their own travel, it may also benefit companies looking for advice as they reconsider their own programs in the year ahead.

“No two clients are alike – nor too large or small for our assistance,” Mr Walley said.

“With the SME Travel Toolkit series, we’re helping businesses identify the best route and resources needed to maximise their productivity and savings without cutting corners or compromising on safety as they propel their businesses forward in this changed world.”

The first and second chapters in the monthly series are ready to view now. To access and receive subsequent chapters by e-mail, sign up to the following link:


Australian tourism industry welcomes visitors again ... slowly but surely

TOURISM BUSINESSES across Australia are poised to welcome back international visitors from Monday, February 21, following 23 months of border closures which have brought much of the tourism export industry to a standstill. 

“This is an important day for our industry and the first, but most important step in getting Australian tourism back on its feet,” Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) managing director Peter Shelley said.

“While the industry has endured a huge hit, the next 12 months will be the hardest for tourism owners as they work to rebuild once profitable businesses, having shed staff and depleted working capital and in many cases taken out loans to survive the last two years."

ATEC’s latest Industry Pulse survey revealed international in-market sellers of Australian travel have been reporting significant concern from consumers lacking confidence to book their travel to Australia.  

“While the government has invested in global advertising to drive demand to return to Australia, there are worrying signs consumers are wary of travelling here with confusion over our various state travel restrictions and concern about snap border closures," Mr Shelley said.

“Australia is a long-haul, aspirational destination and people are concerned by what they have heard in the media about confusing state entry requirements and isolation protocols should they get covid while here.

“While the industry is looking forward to welcoming back international visitors and rebuilding our tourism brand, there is a huge and complex runway to navigate and we need a multitude of factors to line up including access to skilled staff, a consistent approach to covid protocols and ease of movement between states, along with international tourism trade educational programs and targeted advertising campaigns.

“Our financially fragile tourism export sector is now starting to cautiously emerge from the greatest challenge ever faced, having lost hundreds of quality business and thousands of valuable staff," he said.

“Right now, as we welcome back visitors, it will be critical that both State and Federal Governments present a clear message to the global travel community that Australia is once again reopening its borders to the world and remain the welcoming, high-quality destination we are famous for.

“We cannot afford to allow inconsistent regulations around the management of covid to create confusion and erode the confidence of intending travellers," Mr Shelley said.

“Now more than ever we need united government leadership to remove obstacles impeding the recovery of our $45 billion tourism export sector.” 

Other data from ATEC’s Industry Pulse reveals:  

  • Confusion around varying state border requirements is creating booking hesitation;
  • Businesses don’t expect to see a significant flow of international visitors before October 2022;
  • Top recovery markets are expected to be UK, Western Europe, the US and Singapore;
  • Tourism supplier businesses are operating, on average, at 50 percent or less capacity compared with 2019;
  • Inbound Tour Operators are, on average, are operating at 30 percent or less capacity compared with 2019.



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