Travel, Tourism & Events

Third Asia Pacific Cities Summit keynote speaker, Verhaar, joins Branson, Giuliani

Philips senior director and head of strategic sustainability for its Energy and Climate Change division, Harry Verhaar, will join world-renowned keynote speakers Richard Branson and Rudy Giuliani at the 2011 Asia Pacific Cities Summit (APCS) being hosted by Brisbane from July 6-8.

Brisbane's South Bank is fully operational again and ready to receive Asia Pacific Cities Summit delegates from up to100 global cities in July.


Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk  said he was delighted to announce Mr Verhaar, a highly regarded international figure in the climate change effort, as the event's third international keynote speaker.

"As a thought leader in the area of sustainability and climate change throughout the world, I welcome Mr Verhaar as the third keynote speaker at the 2011 Asia Pacific Cities Summit," Councillor Quirk said.

"Mr Verhaar will address the implications of city infrastructure choices on climate change and how pursuing environmental benefits also makes cities more liveable by revitalising public spaces, and creating notable health benefits."

Cr Quirk said Mr Verhaar's announcement now complements former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani and founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson as the third international keynote speaker at the 2011 APCS.

"We now have a keynote speaker who is a global identity with exceptional entrepreneurial expertise, one with vast experience in government and leadership, especially in leading during times of crisis, and now, a forward-looking business leader who can talk about urban sustainability and the benefits of economical, ecological and social development," Cr Quirk said.

"Mr Verhaar is renowned for being an active member of many climate change groups including The Climate Group, World Green Building Council and several UN organisations, and he was most recently part of the UN's COP16 Climate Change Conference in Cancun and previously Copenhagen in 2009," Cr Quirk said.

Mr Verhaar welcomed the opportunity to be part of the international forum.

"The 2011 Asia Pacific Cities Summit, to be held in Brisbane, is a wonderful opportunity for leaders and delegates from across the region to interact and learn from each other," Mr Verhaar said.

"As Philips senior director of Energy and Climate Change, I hope to give examples of regional and local authorities taking a leadership role in driving change from the ground up," he said.

Cr Quirk echoed this sentiment and said he was keen to use the summit as an opportunity to showcase that Brisbane is fast becoming a leading green city and to demonstrate Brisbane's place as Australia's new world city.

"Through the summit's business matching program, delegates will be able to forge international business partnerships with the world's fastest growing market - the Asia Pacific region and I encourage local business and civic leaders to join this forum," Cr Quirk said.

Cr Quirk added that Brisbane is definitely back to business following the January floods and the summit is another way to showcase this to the world.

"This July we will welcome business and government delegates from up to 100 cities, with 80 cities already committed, including 19 from East Asia, 10 from South East Asia, 35 from Australasia, seven from South Asia as well as cities from Europe, Africa, Middle East, North Asia and the Americas," he said.

"The summit will deliver considerable trade and investment opportunities to help boost the economy.

"In Incheon in 2009, deals for Brisbane companies brokered through the summit in South Korea were in the vicinity of $4million and continue to increase," Cr Quirk said.

"Already, through the 2011 APCS business matching program, a Brisbane-based company is in advanced negotiations with an Asian business for a contract that could generate around $50million in export opportunities annually," he said.

The biennial APCS is an integral part of Brisbane City Council's economic development agenda to generate international networks and drive business opportunities for Brisbane businesses throughout the Asia Pacific and beyond.

The APCS, an initiative of Brisbane City Council, supported by the Queensland Government as principal partner, with platinum sponsors ANZ and IBM, will take place at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from July 6-8. 

This year's summit is themed The Business of Cities, and will focus on three streams: the business of green cities, the business of growing cities, and the business of smart and connected cities.

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Queensland-based CTM acquires leading Asian corporate travel brand

CORPORATE Travel Management (CTM) has made a strategic move into the East Asian travel market by acquiring one of the region's best-known brands, Westminster Travel, which has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Macau and Taiwan.

Jamie Pherous.

CTM founder and managing director, Jamie Pherous, said the group's A$49.2 million purchase of 75.1 percent of Westminster Travel would become effective on January 31, 2014. 

The two current major shareholders of Westminster, which is listed on Singapore's Catalyst Exchange, Dato Wong Sin Just and Yu Kam Yee Lawrence, will retain 24.9 percent and remain active in the business following settlement. That stake is to be held by Ever Prestige, a special purpose vehicle jointly owned by Dato Wong and Mr Yu.

Westminster Travel is a multiple award-winning pan-Asia travel management and services provider. Westminster started in Hong Kong and has been operating for 40 years, achieving compound annual growth in NPAT of 19 percent over the last five years.

Mr Pherous, said the acquisition was a natural step to maximise regional business opportunities for both companies following several years of their respective management teams collaborating on networking clients and joint tenders together.

"The acquisition of Westminster Travel fast-tracks our entry into the Asian travel market, delivering an immediate, mature footprint in five key countries and territories," Mr Pherous said.

"After working with their management team for several years, it became clear to us that Westminster Travel possesses all of the qualities we look for - a highly experienced and passionate management team, a business culture which values its people and its clients, and new opportunities to grow together through a regional client offering."

"Like us, Westminster Travel has been recognised by its industry as a leading provider in its region and has innovation as a core driver of the way it does business - evidenced by its focus on client-facing solutions created through in-house development platforms."

Dato Wong said the move was a natural progression for Westminster Travel's growth.

"For our business to continue to grow in the coming years, it was clear to us that we needed to have an international partnership in place," said Dato Wong.

"The challenge was to find a company which not only held the same growth aspirations as ourselves, but which also placed a high value on its staff and exceptional customer service, and we have found that with CTM.

"We have so much confidence in the opportunities ahead for our business that we have decided to retain an ownership interest, and we look forward to building and expanding the business together with CTM's management."

This financial year Westminster Travel has had sales with an audited total transaction value (TTV) of about A$740 million, with an A$9.32 million EBITDA and an NPAT result of A$7.32 million.

CTM has revised its 2014 financial year EBITDA guidance to $27.0m-$28.0m based on Westminster Travel's contribution for the five month period of February 2014 to June 2014, and CTM's execution in the Australia/New Zealand and USA operations continuing to trade in line with previous guidance.
Mr Pherous said together with Westminster Travel management, CTM will now work through a transition plan to maximise the combined opportunities on offer.

Morgan Corporate Limited and CIMB Bank Berhad, Singapore branch acted as joint financial adviser to CTM.

CTM has been acknowledged by the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) as the Best Corporate Agency in Australia eight times in the past 10 years and was inducted into AFTA's Hall of Fame in 2010 for continued excellence. CTM was the first Queensland Leaders member company to go through to listing on the Australian Securities Exchange and has since become a partner in the organisation that helps to foster the next generation of leading companies based in Queensland.

Westminster Travel has been awarded as the Best Travel Agency in Hong Kong four times in the past six years.



New management to rejuvenate Niramaya Villas at Port Douglas

ONE of Port Douglas’s premier luxury resorts, Balinese-style Niramaya Villas and Spa, has appointed new management responsible for generating increased occupancy rates and revitalising its image.

Niramaya Villas and Spa, Port Douglas.

Niramaya Villas and Spa is a five-star luxury Balinese pavilion-style resort set in 15 hectares of landscaped gardens within walking distance of Port Douglas Village and Four Mile Beach.

The resort will be under the management of Seascape Holidays, managed by Zac Sarnecki and Amanda Zsifko.

Mr Sarnecki said the new management team was committed to seeing the iconic resort regain its reputation as the most renowned luxury destination in Far North Queensland.

“Niramaya is a well-known Port Douglas five-star resort, and we aim to reassert its identity as such in both the domestic and international tourism markets,” Mr Sarnecki said.

“We will be focusing on ensuring people know Niramaya is open for business and improving occupancy rates all year round.

“This includes working closely with the travel industry, inviting them to come and get to know us again, and alerting them about our competitive distribution packages.”

Mr Sarnecki said the new management had assigned a number of priorities to attend to during their first 12 months of management.

“First and foremost we’ll be ensuring that there is adequate staffing to provide an unrivalled service to complement the world-class location and architecture,” Mr Sarnecki said.

“We’ll also be working closely with the onsite facilities including the restaurant and spa to ensure a smooth transition and to develop promotional packages to provide a true luxury experience.

“There are also other opportunities we’ll be actively pursuing such as the corporate and wedding markets which the resort is perfectly suited to cater to.”

Niramaya Villas and Spa is bordered by a rainforest, lagoons and fragrant gardens and features an onsite restaurant, which doubles as a poolside function centre which seats up to 80 guests.


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